- Start discussing the scholarship process early. The earlier your son or daughter prepares by participating in extracurricular and community based activities, assuming leadership roles, and starting their research, the easier and more stress-free senior year will be for them to enjoy. A well-prepared senior doesn’t worry as much about scholarship or college applications because they’ve already done most of the work by the end of their junior year. Early preparation also gives them an opportunity to apply for all of the biggest scholarships, which normally have deadlines early in a student’s senior year. This keeps them from scrambling at the last minute to complete applications. Knowing they might be able to enjoy senior year even more with much of the scholarship process behind them could be very motivating to your son or daughter. Read the chapter, “It’s Never Too Early to Prepare for the Scholarship Search” in Winning Scholarships for College for more information. You can also review Senior Year Head Start. Also take a look at The Scholarship Timeline.
- If financially able, offer an incentive. Promise to buy them a new car of their choice if they graduate from high school with a scholarship. Make sure to give them a maximum limit for the car you agree to buy and the type of scholarship they must win to get it (full-ride, tuition, etc.). Considering that the cost of a college education could be three times as much as the car you buy, it might work to your financial advantage.
- Share your financial situation early. Don’t wait until senior year! Estimate the costs of the colleges your son or daughter is interested in attending. Determine your expected family contribution using a financial aid calculator such as the one on http://www.finaid.org. Discuss your debts and other responsibilities, especially brothers and sisters who will also be attending college. Sometimes your son or daughter may not understand how much it takes to keep everything running in your household. Sometimes they grossly overestimate just how well you might be doing. And, most students and parents just don’t understand how many loans they may end up with to afford a college education. A thorough understanding might help motivate them and help you in the process. “Student Loans and Your Future,” a chapter in College Survival & Success Skills 101 can help with understanding and minimizing student loan debt.
- Get your kids talking to other students who have graduated with loans that have to repaid or who have had to work throughout college in order to stay enrolled. Get other college students who have won scholarships to talk to them. Hearing about their experiences might push them into action.
To see additional suggestions for motivating your son or daughter, read Chapter 25 of Winning Scholarships for College.