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Resources > College Support > How To Prepare Your Child for College—A Parent’s Guide

How To Prepare Your Child for College—A Parent’s Guide

Nothing excites a parent more than seeing their children hit major milestones in life and achieve meaningful success. Transition to college is one such moment for students and parents because it presents new experiences and challenges as they grow into adulthood.

Although most parents prepare long before the time comes through savings and investments towards covering the college costs, that’s not all there is. As a parent, you have a responsibility to help your child prepare for college by guiding them in picking the right school and making all the important decisions in this new life stage. In this guide, we’ll provide all the details you need to learn how to prepare your child for college.

Why Is Preparing Your Child for College Important?

College is among the critical stages young adults go through in their formative years that gives them a real shot at landing their dream careers. It’s at this stage that they pick up the skills they need to pursue their life goals.

Although a lot of them are excited about this transition, not many students approach this phase prepared. As a parent, you must play an active role in helping your child navigate the complexities of this exciting but sometimes overwhelming stage of life.

Preparing your kids for college can help them in the following ways:

  • Assists them in vetting and picking institutions likely to give scholarships and other benefits
  • Prepares them emotionally and psychologically for this new phase of their life
  • Helps them select colleges aligned with their strengths and abilities

Crucial Tips To Help You Prepare Kids for College

When your child is stepping out on their own for the first time, it’s natural to worry about how they’ll manage the challenges of college life and handle their new freedom. While you may not always be able to be there for them because they’ll be away, you can trust that the guidance you offer will help them make the most of their college experience.

Some parents start preparing their children as early as junior high school, while others start only when the reality hits that their children will be going away in a few months. Whichever stage you’re in, it’s not too late to give them helpful information and tools to transition seamlessly. Here are key tips on how to prepare your kid for college:

  1. Reinforce their life skills
  2. Assist them with their college applications
  3. Help them manage deadlines
  4. Apply for FAFSA early
  5. Facilitate college visits and tours
  6. Save money for your child’s college tuition
  7. Enroll them in a credit building program

Reinforce Their Life Skills

To do well in college, your child needs to develop the skills necessary to adapt and cope with everyday life in a college environment. Strong interpersonal skills will ensure your child fits in with the rest of the students, lecturers, and the college community. In this sense, some important life skills you need to help them cultivate include:

  • Creative thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Empathy
  • Coping with stress & emotions
  • Effective communication

You should also encourage them to be more independent in doing basic tasks like cooking, cleaning, and managing their budget. This will help them take care of themselves and give you confidence that they can successfully navigate their daily activities.

Assist Them With Their College Applications

Most colleges require applicants to write and submit application essays to help the institutions know more about their achievements and interests. You can help your child in applying for scholarships by making sure they have all the necessary documentation.

Before your child starts working on college applications, you can research and create a list of prospective colleges to recommend to them according to their strengths and interests. You can also encourage your child to volunteer or work in places that reflect their career interests. This may motivate them and set them on a focused path for college and beyond, improving their overall preparedness.

Help Them Manage Deadlines

Managing deadlines is crucial for college students because admissions, scholarships, and financial aid application dates are mostly fixed. With your child’s involvement, create an application submission calendar listing the schools they’re applying to and their respective deadlines. Encourage them to complete tasks in order of priority and follow up to ensure all the due tasks are done.

Apply for FAFSA Early

College is expensive, so it’s important to prepare financially—apply for federal aid early to see whether your child qualifies for it. Applying early will give you sufficient time to make changes if there are any errors in your child’s application.

The FAFSA is the gateway to determining your child’s eligibility for financial aid, so it’s important to fill it out accurately and report all parental income and assets correctly. The federal student aid your child may qualify for through the FAFSA includes:

  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Student loans
  • Work-study programs

Facilitate College Visits And Tours

Visiting college campuses with your child can help them familiarize themselves with the college environment before they enroll. You can visit two or three colleges to help your child narrow down to their best choice based on how the visits go.

Most colleges make it easy for you to visit the school through open houses and tours. Work with your child to create a list of questions you can ask during the tours to help you gather as much information as you need.

Some universities and colleges also offer catalogs listing all their programs. You can acquire these for your child to read through and decide which college and program appeals to them the most.

Save Money for Your Child’s College Tuition

Saving for your child’s education should ideally begin immediately after they’re born, but not all parents can afford to set up savings accounts for their child’s college early in life. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t set up one as your child approaches college. With rising college tuition and living costs, any amount you’ve managed to save can go a long way in reducing the financial burden of college education.

Even if your child qualifies for financial aid, it may not be enough to pay all their college expenses, and you may need to cover part of the tuition fee. That’s where saving plans like the 529 plan come in to give parents a financial safety net. One advantage of a 529 plan is that it offers tax benefits when used to pay for qualified education expenses like tuition, rent, meal plans, and other housing costs.

Enroll Them in Crediting Building Programs

As your child transitions to young adulthood, you’ll need to teach them how to handle their finances responsibly. Enrolling them in a credit building program is a good starting point as it helps them establish a credit history through saving rather than spending. A strong credit history will give your child an advantage when applying for private student loans or Direct PLUS loans in college. A good credit score will also help them qualify for more favorable interest rates when applying for other types of loans and credit cards in the future, as well as better job opportunities.

If you’re looking for an affordable way to build your child’s credit, check out FreeKick. It’s often challenging for students to access credit options because of the Credit Act of 2009, which prohibits issuing credit cards to those under 21. FreeKick helps you bypass that hurdle with its parent-sponsored solution for building credit for your child from the early age of 13.

FreeKick—Parent-Sponsored Identity Monitoring and Credit Profile Building

FreeKick is an FDIC-insured deposit account created by Austin Capital Bank that offers credit building and identity protection services. The service protects the identities of up to two adult parents and six children between the ages of 0 to 25 and builds credit for children between 13 and 25.

Parent-Sponsored Credit Building With FreeKick

FreeKick understands the importance of a good credit score for young adults, which is why it helps establish a robust credit profile for children aged 13 to 25. When your child builds a strong credit profile at an early age, it can save them more than $200,000 throughout adulthood. The process is straightforward:

  1. Create an Account—Visit FreeKick.bank and choose a suitable plan depending on your needs and budget
  2. Set It and Forget It—Once you set up the account, FreeKick will create a 12-month credit history for your child through a no-interest credit builder loan that gets repaid using the deposit
  3. Keep Growing—At the end of the first term, you can terminate the account and receive a full refund of your initial deposit or renew it and continue building your child’s financial future

Identity Protection Services

Identity theft is a growing concern, and college students are among the most vulnerable groups. Statistics reveal that a child’s identity is stolen every 30 seconds, which is why you should be proactive in protecting your child’s identity.

FreeKick helps reduce the risk of identity theft through its comprehensive security features designed to protect both adults and minor children:

Services for Adult Children and ParentsServices for Minor Children
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Lost wallet protection
Court records monitoring
Change of address monitoring
Non-credit (Payday) loan monitoring
Free FICO® Score monthly
FICO® Score factors
Experian credit report monthly
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for children’s personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

FreeKick Pricing

FreeKick offers two plans, as shown in the table below. Both deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.

FDIC-Insured Deposit AmountPlan Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)
No deposit$149/year

Solidify your child’s financial future while protecting your family from identity theft—sign up for FreeKick today.