Contributed by

Parents, you have big dreams for your children—postsecondary education, a home, a great career—but how can you help them get there? Making sure they’re on track from 8th grade through high school will ensure a smoother transition into college and career and get your children closer to their dreams. Use this parent checklist to help your child dream, create a plan, work hard and keep track of his or her progress along the way.

Encourage your child to visit, an online career exploration and planning tool to create his or her own personal plan.

8th Grade
• Explore the different postsecondary education options for your child and which will be the best fit to help him meet his future goals, including community college, university, the military, technical institutes, and apprenticeships. Discuss your ideas about education after high school as a family.
• Encourage your child to explore careers and identify his interests.
• Check in with your child’s teachers or school counselors regularly to understand where your child is doing well and where he needs to improve.
• Download grade-level academic milestones and tips at to see some of the key things your child will be learning in 8th grade.
• Encourage good study habits at home.
• If you haven’t already, start saving money for college. Savings accounts and 529 plans are great ways to get started.

9th Grade
• All Arizona students will complete an Education Career Action Plan (ECAP) in 9th grade. Make an appointment with your child and his school counselor to discuss the ECAP, and make a point to revisit it each year throughout high school.
• Make sure your child is on track for postsecondary education by making sure he is taking the right classes.
• Encourage and expect good grades, attendance, and on-time homework.
• Download grade-level academic milestones for high school at to see what your child will be learning in English and math.
• Have your child save examples of his best work in one place, which will be helpful when your child prepares his application essays for college, applies for scholarships, or prepares his first resume.
• Take your child to a college campus and walk around.
• Encourage your child to be involved in extracurricular activities that interest him and keep a list of the activities he is involved in.

10th Grade
• Ask your child which colleges or training programs interest him and request brochures from those colleges. Your child’s high school counselor is a great place to start getting more information.
• Show support for your child’s academic success by making sure you know when big tests will take place. Ensure your child is well rested and eats a healthy breakfast on testing days.
• Plan ahead for the summer! Colleges frequently offer camps for high school students to get a taste of college life. Speak with your child’s high school counselor for programs in your area.
• Encourage your child to volunteer or seek out a summer internship in his career area of interest.

11th Grade
• Encourage your child to enroll in courses that allow him to earn college credit while still in high school. Consider dual enrollment, AP or International Baccalaureate programs.
• Sign your child up to take the PSAT in the fall. Students who do well on the PSAT may earn a scholarship for college. Talk to your child’s high school counselor for more information.
• Check in with your child’s teachers to make sure your child is staying on top of homework and understands his coursework.
• Encourage your child to register to take the ACT or SAT in the spring.
• Use the FAFSA4caster tool at to find out how much federal student aid your child may qualify for.
• If your child is not on track to graduate, speak with their counselor about credit recovery options.
• Use the free College Scorecard to find out more about a college’s affordability and value so you can make an informed decision.

12th Grade
• Make sure your child is taking a math course his senior year to ensure he keeps his skills current before transitioning to college, a university or another training program.
• Encourage your child to visit at least one campus of a college or university to which he has applied. Make sure your child has applied to his colleges of interest no later than Thanksgiving. There are many steps in the application process; personal statements/essays, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, etc. Work through the application process as a family and make sure your child allows himself enough time to complete and submit all of the materials.
• Make sure your child has completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by mid-February at
• Seek out summer programs offered by a local college or university and encourage your child to participate. These programs help your child know what to expect in college.
• Encourage your child to seek out and apply for scholarships. High school counselors will have information on a variety of scholarships to consider.

For more information and resources, visit



Join our monthly eNewsletter to get Arizona Parenting delivered straight to your inbox!

You rock! Thanks for signing up to receive our monthly eNewsletter! Check your inbox for confirmation!