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College Talk: Guiding Your High Schooler on the Path to Higher Education

As parents of high schoolers, we want to see our kids succeed and be prepared for whatever path they choose after graduation. College often comes up as the next step, but how can we best guide our teens through this important transition? Here are a few tips that could help frame constructive conversations about college planning.

First and foremost, emphasize developing skills over test scores. Here at Keys School Manila,  which adheres to a progressive educational philosophy, there is a  strong emphasis on nurturing critical thinking, time management, collaboration, leadership, and other real-world skills in students, especially through enriching programs like the International Baccalaureate Programme. This growth and competency-based mindset prepares students for the demands of college academics and adulthood far beyond what standardized tests can measure. Have frequent discussions with your teen about their evolving interests, strengths, and skill sets, and help them align their activities, coursework, and extracurriculars to further shape their capabilities.

Next, explore all the options. Encourage your high schooler to research a diverse range of schools and programs based on budget, location, size, and majors offered. Remind them that no one path is right for everyone.

Also, scheduling campus visits together is invaluable. Physically walking around a college campus gives your teen a gut sense of the vibe, environment, and student life. Try to visit schools of varying sizes and settings. While there, chat with current students about their candid experiences and closely observe campus culture and community. Campus tours help transform the idea of college from an abstract future concept into a tangible place your teen can envision attending.

Additionally, focus discussions on finding the best overall fit, not just school names. What is your teen hoping for in college? Do they want to study abroad? What size classes and campus environment gets their energy going? Help them truly identify priorities like location, cost, average class size, social scene, sports, diversity, school spirit, etc. Have them start drafting lists of well-matched potential "reach," "target" and "safety" schools where their goals, needs and interests align with that college's strengths and offerings.

Finally, remember that college planning is a thoughtful journey, not a one-time pressured decision. Maintain an open, judgment-free channel of communication where your teen feels comfortable speaking honestly, voicing concerns, and thinking out loud. Trust in guiding them, not mandating a specific path or school. With your unconditional support, gentle wisdom and patience, your high schooler will be equipped to make informed, empowered college decisions that enable them to keep learning and thriving.

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