Parent Guide to College Planning: 3 tips

Written by
Emily Stetson

March 4, 2019


Parent Guide to College Planning image

Are you the parent of a high school student? If so, welcome to one of the most formative phases of your student’s life. While the path to college or career training is definitely your student’s journey, as a parent you play a major role—both financially and from a practical perspective. You’re the chief encourager, reminder of tasks, and sounding board for decisions (and emotions). You walk the fine line between providing support and pushing too hard to help your student move past procrastination or fear to stay on track. And — let’s face it — the process can be at times overwhelming for all involved.

We get it. Here are 3 strategies to help you move forward:


Listen. You have more influence on your student’s decision-making than you might realize. So listen to your student. What are their interests? What are they fearful about in the process ahead? What are the financial and other considerations for your family? Keep communication open and talk it through.

To-dos: Start the conversation about college or career training. Explore interests and careers. Students—not sure about what you want to do? You’re not alone! Watch this Ted Talk.

Step 2

Start your plan. One of the most paralyzing aspects of the college process is not knowing where to begin. We’ll help you break it down into manageable tasks.

To-dos: Attend one of the College & Career Pathways free events for parents, students, and adult learners on 2/27, 3/7, 3/21 or 4/10, held on a Vermont college campus. Drop in for the Resource Fair and talk to Vermont experts about planning and paying for college or training. Plus, you can attend your choice of workshops, to learn about:

  • Finding for the right fit: & the college search & admissions steps
  • Financial aid & managing college costs
  • Apprenticeships & careers in the skilled trades
  • Scholarships -- free money!

Don’t miss out! Free hearty snacks provided too.

Check off your year-by-year tasks, with these step-by-step action plans:

Sign up for college planning tips from VSAC.

Step 3

Learn more. Behind-the-scenes research can help you be a better resource for your student.


Have questions or need help? Contact VSAC — as Vermont’s nonprofit higher education resource for students, we’re here to answer your questions as you plan for education after high school. Call us at 1-888-943-7301 for help Monday through Friday, 8:30 am–4:30 pm or schedule an appointment to talk with our counselors from 10:00 am–3:00 pm at our Resource Center in Winooski.