Postsecondary education should be on your radar – no matter how old your children are

For a parent, there’s no prouder moment than watching your child don their cap and gown and march across the stage to receive a well-earned diploma. While a kindergarten graduation is certainly the most adorable, it’s the postsecondary graduation that will make the most difference to your child’s future. It’s also the most daunting, though.

When the time comes to write application essays and seek financial aid, there are a variety of ways to get help. But first, you have to set your kid on the path to pursuing education after high school, which should start now. Depending on their age, here are a few ideas to help your child work toward a postsecondary degree.

For preschool aged youth: Start learning off on the right foot by seeking out high quality early learning experiences that will enrich your child. These early years set the stage for future learning and can be a good indicator of later success. You can use First Things First’s Quality First program to help you find a good program in your neighborhood.

If a formal preschool isn’t available to your family, seek ways to make every day activities a learning experience. Reading to your child, creating sensory experiences, and talking about everything from colors to shapes to letters can help to prepare them for growth in the classroom.

For children in elementary school and middle school: Inspiring youth can have a strong impact on their educational efforts. Discuss a wide variety of career paths that your child dreams about and seek ways to understand how to make that happen.

Keep in contact with your child’s teachers to ensure that their learning is on track for success. Encourage them to read every day – it’s a valuable skill that will set the stage for all future learning.

Now is also the time to start saving for college. Look into what money saving vehicle is best for your family and prepare to invest whatever you’re able. There are a variety of ways to do this, but the key is to take the first step and begin setting funds aside.

For high school students: Postsecondary education is closer than ever. Now is the time to discuss the future – is college the right choice? Or perhaps a professional certification or training to work in a trade? Make visits to college campuses to familiarize your young scholar and discuss what course they might pursue.

This is also the time to create an action plan and ensure that learning is on track to be prepared for the next big step. Work with the school counselor to identify key dates and scholarship opportunities.

Help your child reach their goals by encouraging them to visit Create Your Next, an interactive web app where students can explore careers and stay on track from 8th grade through high school. You can download a Checklist for Parents to make sure your child is on track to succeed.

Pursuing additional learning is more than another phase in education, it’s an economic necessity. Within the next few years, an estimated 70 percent of jobs will require postsecondary training, yet only half of Arizona high school graduates pursue that after graduation. College degrees, professional certifications and trade training can open doors to a wide variety of career opportunities for your child – don’t let that pass them by.

Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to ensure every child receives an excellent education every step of the way. For more information visit ExpectMoreArizona.org.

 

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