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College prep talk

AnayaTime really does fly when you’re a parent. I’ve already started the college tours with my daughter. She’s only a junior in high school but, am I happy we decided to start this process now. 

Most importantly, it gives her time to see what’s out there, visit the campuses she thinks might appeal to her, ask questions and gauge how she “feels” when she’s there. Equally valuable is the insights she gets from the school officials about what they’re looking for in an applicant, how competitive the landscape is to get into a quality college, and how critical the junior year of high school is academically. These are things she’s heard from me and her school counselor over the years but, having it drilled into her head by the people who actually make that life-changing decision about whether to accept a student or not, gave it a whole new reality. Students today aren’t just expected to present a high GPA with a challenging curriculum. They’re also expected to provide unique, well-written essays; they’re expected to have exceptional SAT scores; and they need to give evidence that they are well-rounded persons involved in their campus and community. 

She’s always been a good, self-motivated student. But getting this jump-start on the process has proven to be a game-changer. She knows exactly what she needs to do to get to where she wants to go; she no longer needs me to remind her what’s expected.

Imagine that you’re the parents of a student with college aspirations, but you have no way to navigate those academic waters because you didn’t attend college.

That is the challenge facing so many families across our great state. Preparation is key to getting our students into college and that process needs to begin sooner rather than later. Parental involvement is essential, and that is why Arizona State University has rolled out a new program of workshops targeting this very issue.

The Future Sun Devil Families initiative is partnering with various Valley high schools to offer free, monthly, interactive workshops during the regular school year in order for ninth-grade students and their parents to learn how to navigate the complexities  of obtaining a college degree and receiving financial aid. They are also instructed bilingually so that everyone walks away with a clear understanding of what’s involved.

We’re still working on paring down the list of places where my daughter will apply, but the idea of going to college was never in question for her. Every child should have the opportunity to reach for that goal and, when it’s backed by a parent’s support and understanding of the process, the opportunities for success are endless. 

For more information and to register for the FSDF program visit asu.edu/futuresundevils.

Catherine Anaya anchors CBS 5 News weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 10 p.m. She is a mother of two, wife and motivational speaker. Reach her at catherine.anaya@cbs5az.com; connect with her on Facebook, twitter and at CatherineAnaya.com.

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This Article appears on the November 2013 issue of LPM under Anaya Says

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