By Toni W. Riley
The sweet little boy that gave his parents lots of hugs and kisses and thought they were the most important people on Earth has turned into an adolescent and started high school. In four quick years, he will graduate and go off in search of a career or college. How can his parents support him, value his independence, teach him responsibility and make sure he has what he need to move into the real world?
Martha Speak, senior guidance counselor at Fort Campbell High School, says it’s important for parents to take a sincere interest in their child’s education and take time to talk with them about the
The guidance department at FCHS has a very helpful document entitled, “For Students Only, Everything You Wanted to Know about High School.”
While the title may say for students only, parents are welcome to read and help their student make the most of the next four years.
No. 1 is to set goals and plan — not just dream. Parents and students should sit down and talk about what the student wants to accomplish while in high school and what the student wants to do after high school. Talk about what he/she likes to do and how those talents can be turned into a career.
Their answer should be more than, “I want to be a doctor.” It’s important to look at what it will take to be a doctor. What kinds of classes will the student need to take? Does the student want to be a doctor but hate math and science? Plans can, of course, be revised, but it is important to start planning and setting goals as a freshman or earlier. The FCHS guidance department has a guide to career planning.
Speak advises parents to be involved. All area high schools have the ability for parents to check grades. Parents can check grades every day and stay on top of what their child is doing. Don’t feel that this is an invasion of their privacy. Your student is still your child — even if they don’t want to admit that fact. Parents can email teachers when a grade doesn’t look right. As your child matures, they should take on more responsibility for monitoring their grades, completing assignments and studying. However, parents are expected to check on their student’s progress and be informed.
As you and your student plan, another important consideration is how the family is going to pay for post-secondary education. Don’t wait to start thinking about this when your student is a junior. Start early. Look at the cost of the post-secondary school your child wants to attend. Don’t get sticker shock when your child is a junior; start looking as a freshman. Learn the difference between financial grants, scholarships and loans. Speak notes that financial aid is state and federal government money which is provided for students based on family income.
Scholarships are based on grades and excellence in a specific area, such as music, sports and art. There are thousands of scholarships available and students and parents can do a web search, but Speak recommends Fastweb as a place to start.
Local scholarships are available, but competition for these is very high. There is a large number of scholarships available to Christian County students, including the Rotary scholarship to Hopkinsville Community College. Most guidance departments have a file cabinet with scholarship applications that students can pick up. Speak says she also emails senior
parents with information about
Both Kentucky and Tennessee provide scholarships from lottery funds for students who attend in-state colleges. Kentucky’s scholarship fund is called KEES, Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship. Tennessee’s is Tennessee Hope.
Both are awarded based on good grades and ACT scores. These scholarships accrue slightly different. KEES money is accumulated over all four years of high school, prorated based on grades during those four years of high school. KEES money can continue through college based on grade point average requirements. Tennessee Hope, is allocated for the senior year based on a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a 21 ACT or higher.
Students also need to plan for extracurricular activities. Some clubs will enhance their high school experience, make them a better person and help them toward post-secondary education and possibly a career.
Scholarship committees look for well-rounded students. Speak advises students not to try to be in every organization but to focus on extracurricular activities that fit best with their plan and really concentrate on those groups. A good student without a 4.0 can still receive considerable scholarships if they show four years of strong leadership, community service and citizenship experiences.
You and your child need to be advocates for a successful high school experience and post-secondary education. Get to know the guidance counselor and ask their advice, but don’t expect them to line out your student’s future. Taking the initiative by researching and planning can go a long way.
With some talk, time and planning, high school years can be a great experience for both parent and child, and when the child walks across the stage and accepts their diploma, the student can be
prepared for the next step in their career plan.
- www.militarychild.org has info provided by the Military Child Education Coalition, which focuses on quality
education for military-connected students
- www.am.dodea.edu/campbell offers information about each school at Fort Campbell and student requirements
- www.kheaa.com and www.tn.gov/collegepays have info about each state’s lottery-funded scholarship
- www.fastweb.com has a wealth of information on scholarships, internships, financial aid and career planning. The site also helps students with their college search.