"How a 19 gonna get you into college? Do you have all the paperwork?" the mom asked fumbling through a huge stack of papers.
"Yes" replied the teen bluntly.
"T" tap tap tap.
"Ooh this too much" said the mom.
I smiled. Someone's going to college. I leaned in slightly listening deeper to their conversation. The mother daughter bickering continued for a few minutes until the mom rose from her chair completely frustrated with her daughter. The daughter let out a huge sigh.
"Are you okay" I asked.
"Yes ma'am." She said softly looking down at her laptop.
Her mom returned and sat down between us. "Ooh this is so frustrating" she said looking my way. "Pardon"
"All this college stuff. My daughter is going to college and there is so much paperwork."
"Oh, I remember those days" I said.
"I ain't never been to college and she don't have all her stuff and ooh this is so confusing."
I looked at her daughter and asked what college she was attending and she shared. She also said she had received a basketball scholarship to a local community college. Her mom beamed. "She's the first in our family to go and we are so proud of her" said her mom. Her daughter smiled. "Congratulations" I said thinking of how proud her mom must be.
For some of us it's difficult to fathom in this day and age some kids are making waves as the first in their family to go college but it's true. Many parents are unaware of resources to help guide them through the college application process. However, unlike days of old there are tons of resources to help navigate the process and many are just a click or phone call away.
- First and foremost, speak with a counselor at your child's school to make sure your child has met the required courses for graduation.
- Secondly, encourage your child to take an ACT or SAT prep course. Many communities offer free prep courses. Google "SAT prep training course free" or "ACT prep training course free" to locate programs in your area. Some programs require students to participate in a course over a few weeks and include sample exams to help students prepare for the actual exam.
- Apply early and adhere to deadlines. Be aware of application deadlines for semester, financial aid and scholarships. A late application can be the difference between attending the college of your choice or having to sit out a semester.
- Read the application thoroughly. If you have any questions regarding the application process contact the college Admissions office. Questions about financial aid, contact the Financial Aid office.
The mom really appreciated me sharing these tips with her. We were able to find a local rec center offering free ACT courses and get her daughter enrolled. Her daughter showed her mom the campus website and I watched as the mom saw for the first time a picture of the campus her daughter would soon call "home". Tears welled up in her mom's eyes. I could see how proud she was of her kid treading where no one in her family has gone. I wished both good luck and hugged both mother and daughter saying "I'm so proud of you. Enjoy your college experience" as my kids entered the room signaling it was time for us to go. My eyes welled up thinking days like this will soon be gone. They grow up way too fast.