ACT Parent

In this issue

Searching for the Right Fit

When it comes to life after high school, your son or daughter has a world of opportunities. There are two-year and four-year colleges, apprenticeships, vocational courses, certificate and license programs…the list goes on. Whether your student is going into postsecondary education or heading straight for the workforce, here are some practical tips for helping him or her find the right fit.

Get on track. Is your student academically prepared for college and careers? Some education after high school is necessary for many careers, so it’s important to make sure the high school courses your student takes will be appropriate for college or training programs. Your student may want to check how well his or her high school curriculum measures up. Find out if your student is ready for college and use our career planning tool to explore careers.

Consider the possibilities. Identify your teen’s favorite subjects and look for educational and vocational opportunities that offer programs in those areas. ACT’s map of college majors and World-of-Work map matches interests and abilities to colleges and careers.

Set priorities. Help rank what’s most important to your son or daughter, such as majors, locations, types of institutions, number of students, and costs. Once priorities have been determined, you and your student can investigate specific schools. Search for colleges that match your student’s preferences. Your teen should also schedule an appointment with a high school counselor to discuss educational aspirations and find out about college fairs to attend.

Take a tour. The spring of junior year is good time to begin visiting colleges and schools. Schedule visits to institutions of interest, and try to go when classes are in session so your teen can see what the academic environment is really like and can talk to students and professors. Meet with admissions and financial aid representatives. Eat in the cafeteria and stroll through the buildings and residence halls to get a feel for campus life.

Make a decision. Once you and your student have visited some colleges and schools, you both will have a better idea of which ones offer the best fit. Now your student can begin the application process, which we will cover in an upcoming issue of ACT Parent.

Four Reasons to Attend College

As a parent of a high school student, you should know that college degrees offer some distinct advantages. For example, college graduates can expect:

Better career options. One of the most important reasons for anyone to attend college is the upper hand it gives with regard to jobs and career. Despite recent economic events, a college graduate has a higher chance of landing a high quality job compared to someone with only a high school diploma or GED.

More money. Various respected studies have shown that college graduates earn more money during their lifetimes than those without a college degree. Even individuals with two-year degrees earn more than those who have no degree at all.

A brighter future. In the growing economy, college graduates are more likely than high school diploma holders or less educated individuals to keep their jobs. Even during phases of fewer work opportunities, college graduates survive better in the job market.

Stronger job opportunities. One estimate says that by the year 2028, there will be 19 million more jobs for educated workers than there are qualified people to fill them. With some basic courses and skills, the potential to land a job or find an employer that will provide training is greater with a college degree.

For more information about college, visit ACT’s choosing a college website.

Making Sense of College Terms

College planning has changed a great deal since many parents were in high school. For one thing, there are more terms than ever before. What do they all mean? Here’s a guide to help you make sense of them.

  • Common/universal application. This form allows your student to submit one application to many different schools. Contact schools to find out if they accept the common/universal application. Check out the Common Application and Universal College Application online. Some schools also require supplemental forms.

  • Early action (EA). A student can apply by November of the senior year to an early action school and receive an admission response early, usually by mid-December. The decision is usually non-binding, but the applicant may need to agree to forgo applying to other early action/early decision institutions. Non-binding means your student is still free to apply to other schools even if accepted by an early-action school.

  • Early decision (ED). This is a good option if a student has only one college in mind. A student usually applies by November and receives a decision by December. The main difference from early action is that early decision offers are binding, which means that your student promises from the start to attend the early decision school if his or her application is accepted.

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form required for determining student financial aid, the FAFSA should be completed and submitted as soon after January 1 as possible. The form and supporting information can be found on the FAFSA website.

  • Open admissions or open enrollment colleges. To enroll at one of these schools, a student typically needs just a high school degree or a GED. Colleges usually make the decision without regard to a student’s previous academic performance. However, some students may need to take tests to be placed in appropriate first-year classes.

  • Rolling admissions. This is a process in which a school reviews applications and makes decisions on them until the freshman class is filled. Some schools may have a hard deadline for applications for each semester, so look for cut-off dates.

  • Selective admissions. This refers to the policy of admitting only well-qualified applicants, based on high school grades, admission test scores, and additional personal information often provided through essays, resumes, interviews, and letters of recommendation.

  • Transcript. This official record of high school or college courses and grades is generally required as part of the college application.

  • Wait list. Students who have not yet been admitted to a college, but who are still under consideration, are placed on a wait list. A college does not offer or deny admission, but extends the possibility of admission before the admission cycle is completed.

2012-2013 ACT Test Date Schedule

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
(extra fees required)
December 8, 2012 November 2, 2012 November 3-16, 2012
February 9, 2013* January 11, 2013 January 12-18, 2013
April 13, 2013 March 8, 2013 March 9-22, 2013
June 8, 2013 May 3, 2013 May 4-17, 2013

*No test centers are scheduled in New York for the February test date.

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