Parent Guide to College Planning: 3 tips

Written by
Emily Stetson

March 12, 2018


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 2018 free events for students and parents on 3/17, 3/24 or 4/7: In a half-day of workshops, held on a Vermont college campus, we’ll help you learn about:

  • Searching for colleges & admissions steps
  • Financial aid options & how to research scholarships
  • Campus life—internships, study abroad, playing college sports, & more
  • Great paths to a career that doesn’t require a degree

Don’t miss out! It’s also a great way to visit a campus and take a low-key tour.

Check off your year-by-year tasks with our Planning for College Guide, giving step-by-step action items starting with freshman year.

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.


National Median Earnings chart

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.