[VIDEO] College Conversations with Your Teen Before High School Senior Year

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For the Spanish version, please click HERE.

This is a special 6-week editorial series called “LifeEDU” sponsored by Coca-Cola’s #FortheDream program, where we arm parents with tips & recommendations on how to take advantage of the summer period to positively influence the transition between high school to college…and beyond.

Teens usually take advantage of the summer to unwind, enjoy fun in the sun, visit Abuelos  and enjoy time with friends and family, without having to think about school. Since during this time there’s little course work, it’s also a great time for parents and influencers to take advantage of their teen’s attention to discuss big-picture plans for their future. This is especially true if you have a daughter or son that’s entering their high school senior year, another big moment: college applications!

Why not use the weeks prior to starting the school year to sit down as a family and talk about your kid’s goals? Specifically talk about the ‘why’ behind their goals and how you will be involved in the process.

Be sure to check out Coca-Cola’s #ForTheDream program that empowers Hispanic teens and families to prepare, plan and pay for college education- DETAILS AT THE END!

Coca Cola #forthedream Los Tweens & Teens


“Los Tweens & Teens” creator & publisher, Cristy Clavijo-Kish, asked her twin teen daughters, Sophia & Olivia, about their college dreams. Check it out what they said:

Below are FOUR conversations you can have with your teen right now that will alleviate headaches later:

  1. The Numbers Conversation

college savings Los Tweens & TeensAccording to the College Board, a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for 2014-2015 was $23,410 and a moderate budget at a private institution average $46, 272. With these high price tags, it’s imperative that you first decide how much your family can contribute to the costs and then (honestly) discuss it with your teen.

Important questions that you should have answers for include:

  • Can you afford the full program?
  • Does your teen need to apply for various financial aid?
  • Do you have enough with your college pre-paid program?
  • Are there scholarships that your teen can apply for, like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund?
  • Are out-of-state schools even an option or will it be better to start with a 2-year community college?

These are all important questions to go over well before the college research starts as the answers will play into considering where to apply and whether it’s private or public. If this topic is not addressed until the student begins receiving letters of acceptance, the student may be disappointed to be unable to attend the college they want due to the economic factor.

  1. The College Options Conversation


College options Los Tweens & Teens Coca ColaYou also can guide your teen to make the best decision about the program in which they are interested and more importantly, why they are choosing this program. For example, if he/she prefers a program because a best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend is also interested, it is an opportunity for you to advise the student that this is not the best reason for the selection, as they may regret it later. Equally important is that you give him/her space to make their choices.  The idea is to guide, not choose for them.  Remember this HARD LESSON FOR PARENTS:  “We” are not going to college; Your teen is.

  1. The College Application Conversation

image by "bluebay" in Freedigitalphotos.net

Not all schools have a counselor who can provide your teen with individualized support during the application process. This aspect is usually best to be guided by you or a designated ‘influencer’ in your family that you trust- for example an aunt, ‘Tia’ or Tio, special family friend, etc. Therefore, you can make sure the student is aware of the necessary steps to apply on time, take required examinations (like the SAT, Subject Tests, AP, ACT), make time to study for these tests, make sure you verify applications before they’re sent and do the research needed for college applications.

Because each application includes a cost, this process is important to monitor. One recommendation is that you meet with the school counselor at the beginning of the school year to establish a closer relationship.  This effort could result in more support for your son or daughter throughout their senior year. If you think you will not be able to give your full attention to the process – or feel that someone else is better suited for it, like an aunt or older sibling – make sure you discuss this with that person beforehand.

  1. The Campus Visit Conversation

College campus visit Los Tweens & Teens Coca ColaCollege visits through “open houses” are an excellent opportunity for you and your teen to learn more about the institution, the program and the city in which it is located. It’s also an awesome bonding opportunity!  Some important questions include: will you be able to afford the trips? If so – will your trips focus on your teen’s top 2 or 3 choices? Will your teen want to make plans with friends or other family members to join? If your family is anything like Cubans and other Latinos- you may have a few (or many!) primas (cousins) join you!  Even if the student ends up attending with other students, it’s important to have an adult with them to ensure that all questions were asked and take into consideration the adult perspective when deciding. (And guess what, Coca-Cola’s #ForTheDreamSweeps can help you visit the campus with your teen by entering here.)

The college application process is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to have quality time with your teen a before they leave home for their next life stage. This is the opportunity for you to be the “cheerleader” for your son or daughter by having a positive attitude, offering objective recommendations, guiding the entire process….and of course, have fun with it!

Coca-Cola’s #ForTheDream program inspires and empowers Hispanic teens and families to prepare, plan and pay for  college education. The program will award one college tour experience and thirty-four $500 grants via the #ForTheDreamSweeps sweepstakes to help cover education expenses. To enter the sweepstakes participants can post a selfie with someone who is helping them achieve their college dreams on Twitter or Instagram, and tag it using the hashtag #ForTheDreamSweeps. A My Coke Rewards product code can also be submitted as an entry on the website: http://Coke.com/ForTheDream.

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