Tips for Parents of 10th Graders
Most parents know that ninth grade is a time of adjustment. Your student will need to get used to the demands of high school level course work, experiment with different extracurriculars, and find a social circle that he or she is comfortable with. By 11th and 12th grade, the focus becomes college and standardized tests. But what about 10th grade? What should a 10th grader be doing to make sure that he or she is ready for college when the time comes? How can parents help?
In this post, we answer all a parent’s questions about 10th grade. Learn how parents can prepare for the college process, support burgeoning independence, and foster an open relationship that will pay off in dividends. Parents of 10th graders, keep reading to find out how you can be proactive about the college process now.
1. Educate Yourself
If you’re like most parents, it’s been quite some time since you applied to college, if you did so at all. The college application process has changed tremendously in recent years, and it bears little resemblance to the process you remember. You can help your teen out by educating yourself so that you’re available to help when the time comes.
To learn more about how college admissions work today, check out these posts:
You’ll also want to learn more about financial aid so that you’re prepared to help your teen. Knowing whether or not your family is likely to need and qualify for financial aid will be a big advantage as you and your teen consider college costs.
Here are some resources to get started as you learn more about financial aid:
2. Consider College Visits
In reality, your teen doesn’t need to start visiting college campus until the summer after 10th grade, but college visits can be difficult to coordinate so it’s a good idea to start thinking about them now.
For starters, compile a list of colleges that are local to you. This could be schools that are just a few minutes down the road, or schools that are a few hours’ drive. In any case, they are the schools that will be day trips and easiest for your teen to visit. Even if your teen isn’t particularly interested in these colleges, visiting them with an eye for other factors, like housing, campus climate, student clubs, and other resources can give your teen insight into what factors he or she likes in a college, and which he or she could do without. If your teen ends up liking one of these colleges, that’s a bonus. For now, you’re really just getting a preliminary idea of what to expect and what to look for during a campus visit.
In addition, review your family’s travel plans for the next year, and consider if there are colleges that you might visit along the way. Heading to Boston to visit Grandma? Don’t miss a few New England campuses that you might not have the opportunity to see again. Heading to Florida for winter break? Why not drop by a college or two while you’re there. College visits that involve travel can really add up in costs, so taking advantage of existing travel plans can end up saving both time and money later on.
For more about campus visits, check out these posts:
3. Start a Conversation
It can be difficult to get your teen talking about college, especially when it probably stills seems like a distant reality to him or her. Instead of asking questions directly related to choosing a college or to college admissions, instead focus on the factors that will ultimately help to drive this process.
Ask your teen about his or her favorite subjects and activities. Have an open dialogue about what your teen likes about these activities and what his or her aspirations are. Not only will this conversation provide you some insight into your teen’s life, but it will also get your teen thinking.
In addition, have conversations that allow you to get to know your teen better. Even parents who have a close relationship with their teen can learn more, especially since 10th graders often undergo a period of rapid growth and change. This means that your teen’s best friends or favorite activities last month might fade by next month. Ask questions like how your teen would plan a perfect day all to him or herself or if your teen were a movie character, who would he or she be and why. You can make these conversations lighthearted by providing your own answers and not pressuring your teen to talk if he or she doesn’t want to.
Getting to know your teen and getting your teen thinking about who he or she really is will give you both a head start when it comes time for college applications. For more on getting the conversation started, check out our post 6 Questions To Get Your High Schooler Thinking About The Future.
4. Model Good Habits
It goes without saying that as a parent, your most important job is to model good behavior, but the same can also be said for your work habits. Modeling things like time management, organization, dedication to a cause, and other similar habits can be important to ingraining them in your teen.
Show that when you commit to something, you follow through on it. Use a calendar to track deadlines and other important events. Read daily. Practice self care. Think about the skills that you hope your teen leaves your house with, and live them every day.
5. Encourage Independence
Finally, this is the year that your teen will really start to stretch his or her wings. This can sometimes be daunting or even scary for parents, but remember, your teen is becoming a young adult and in just a few short years, he or she should be capable of living away from you. Encourage as much independence as possible this year by allowing your teen to take the lead. At the same time, provide guidance towards responsible decisions.
Some simple ways that you can encourage independence are through stepping back from your teen’s problem solving process. If your teen is having trouble in a class, encourage him or her to talk to the teacher personally, rather than involving a parent in the conversation. When tricky decisions about juggling academics or extracurriculars arise, ask your teen what he or she thinks is the best choice for him or her. Putting the ball back in your teen’s court will help him or her to develop stronger problem solving skills, maturity, and independence.
Does your teen want access to expert college guidance — for free? When they create their free CollegeVine account, they will find out their real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve their profile, and get their questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Encourage them to sign up for their CollegeVine account today to get a boost on their college journey.
For more about parenting a 10th grader and beyond, check out these posts:
Want more tips on improving your academic profile?
We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.