The joy of the holiday season is upon us all. Excitement and anticipation of the holiday season and the arrival of a new year, makes December a wonderful time. This holds true for high school seniors/parents and current college students. Making Santa’s “good list” for college admission decisions and awaiting the arrival of a “gift” in the form of an Acceptance Notification, can make the holiday’s a stressful time.  The holiday break is also a time when college students return from campus, many for the first time since departing home. Parents await the arrival in hopes of good tidings (grades) and a joy for a great first semester.

As we put word to paper, Admissions Departments at college and universities throughout New England and across the US are busy at work. They are gearing up for the fluid of Admissions Applications from high school seniors seeking to join their institutions. Some have already arrived through Early Action but e-mailboxes will be overflowing soon. Like Santa reading his list, college counselors will be burning the midnight oil to read “files” (mostly electronic), interrupt interview conversations and evaluate student profiles in hope of a match. Their work culminates with the delivery of the all-important communication, You Have Been Accepted!! Welcome to the Class of 2023.

Have You Filed the FAFSA?

In the November issue of the Route One Magazine, filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) we wrote about and its importance to the college planning process. The FAFSA is the primary catalyst for determining one’s eligibility for need-based financial aid. If not already submitted, time is now. Whether a student is considering a community college, 4-year public or private or a trade or professional school, the FAFSA is key to learning about financial aid and the question of affordability. If a student is considering enrolling in September of 2019, the FAFSA should be on the holiday list. Getting accepted might be is #1, but knowing if you can pay decides where one goes.

My 1st Semester Was a Blast

But what about your grades, asked Mom and Dad? For sure, the holiday break is a time when new college Freshman are quiz on how well they are doing, academically and personally. Discussions surrounding first semester grades, social interaction and one’s overall well-being are very common during the holiday break. As a parent of four and having navigated the “how are you doing” conversation more than once, parents need to be cautions when probing and sensitive to their process of trying to uncover the unknown. Yes, it is extremely vital to know how the new college student is doing, especially if assistance is needed, however, cracking the shell of a new independent students may require time and patients. Use different times during the break to create a conversation and watch body language as much as verbal communication to get a sense as to how things are going. In the end, everyone will celebrate to learn everything is fine.

Juniors Are Waiting Too                                                                               

Not to be left out of the celebration, rising Juniors (and parents) should use the holiday break to taking a pulse check on the college planning process. Working on building the college lists, prepping for ACT/SAT test dates and mapping out campus visits are just a few things to focus on during the break. Parents too should be using the time to sharpen their “financing college” pencil. Equal to making Santa’s “good list,” having the ability to cover the cost of enrollment makes for joyful outcomes. With the average cost of $30-$50K, Santa and his reindeers will not be delivering that kind of present next year. Rising Juniors and their parents should use the holiday break to talk about expectations. Those associated with attending and paying for college come September of 2020.