Parents often ask me how early they should start preparing their child for college.
The answer is that preparing a child for college as a parent starts at birth and continues through 6 stages. The 6 stages involve the financial, emotional, intellectual and academic growth that needs to occur for optimum results.
Stage 1 is financial planning that starts when the child is born or before.
Stage 2 is nurturing the child's interests, talents, self image and interpersonal skills
Stage 3 is mentoring the child through school for best outcomes
Stage 4 is acquainting the child to college early so that it is a familiar place
Stage 5 is the actual college planning process when he is in high school
Stage 6 is mentoring your child through the college process to graduation
As a parent, you are your child's best advocate and understand him best. You are a valuable asset to teachers and counselors. While many people will have a positive impact on him, no one else is mentoring and guiding your child on a long term basis.
Don't be afraid of being labeled a "helicopter" parent. You have a right and a responsibility to be involved at the appropriate level. Your role will be much less visible to others as your child matures but it is best to be there in the background observing and mentoring as he reaches his final educational goals.