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100 Useful College-Planning Tools for Conscientious Parents

As a smart and conscientious parent, chances are you’re thinking about your child’s future in college. That’s great, but do you know what you can do to help out? Read on, and you’ll find 100 tools that can help you get everything figured out and give your future college student a leg up on planning.


These tools are just all around helpful.

  1. Checklist for College Planning: Make use of this checklist to help your high school student make the right decisions.
  2. ACT Student Stories: Share these stories with your child to motivate them to do well for college.
  3. Five Common College Parenting Mistakes: Avoid making these mistakes with your child.
  4. 10 Ways to Jump-Start College Planning: Follow this guide to help your middle school student prepare for college.
  5. Checklists for Parents of College Students: Get things straight with your college student using these checklists.
  6. Common College Planning Terms: This resource will help you decode terms in college planning.
  7. A Senior’s Advice to Parents: Read this article to get advice for helping your student, straight from a real high school senior.
  8. Hoverings: This blog for college parents offers lots of helpful advice.
  9. My child is off to college…now what?: This article offers sound advice for what you can do now that your child has left the nest.
  10. College Confidential Parents Forum: This forum is a great place for parents to discuss admissions, financial aid, and more.
  11. Helping Your Child Become a First-Generation College Student: This booklet will help you prepare your teen for college and a career.
  12. Parents Countdown to College Coach: Read this blog for excellent ongoing advice for parents getting ready to send their child to college.
  13. Glossary: In this glossary, you’ll find college related terms and acronyms explained.
  14. Break Those Bad Habits Early: Get your student prepared for college life by breaking these bad habits.
  15. College Parent Magazine: This magazine will help you survive the college parenting experience.
  16. College 101 for Parents: In this guide, you’ll find essential questions and answers for parents sending their children off to college.
  17. ACT Parent Newsletter: Subscribe to this newsletter from ACT, and you’ll get ongoing advice for preparing your future college student.
  18. End-of-Year College Planning Checklist: Follow this checklist to make sure you’re on track.
  19. Learning to Let Go: Parents as Partners: In this guide, you’ll learn how to be a good parent partner.
  20. Empty Nest Syndrome: From this guide, you’ll learn how to deal with your empty nest.
  21. Decade of Decisions: In this quarterly newsletter, you’ll get news customized to your child’s year in school.

Middle & High School

Put these tools to work in middle school and high school to help your student.

  1. Tips for a new school year: With these tips from ACT, you can help your student start off the school year right.
  2. Core high school courses necessary for acceptance to most colleges: Here you’ll learn about the most important courses your high school student can take.
  3. Parental Involvement in Middle and High School Years: Read this guide to learn how you can be a positive involvement in your child’s middle and high school years.
  4. Action Plan: Your Senior: Follow this action plan to prepare your senior student for college.
  5. Jump-start Your Junior’s College Planning: Find out what your junior needs to be doing using this guide.
  6. College Prep Starts in Middle School: Read this article to see how you can get started on your child’s college plans while in middle school.
  7. A Middle School Parent’s College Prep Guide: Follow these seven steps to get your child closer to college as early as middle school.
  8. Motivating the Unmotivated Student: These tips can help you get your student motivated to go to college.
  9. What to Do About Senioritis: This resource will help you combat your child’s senioritis.
  10. Student Action Plans: With these action plans, you can make sure your student is on the right track in high school.
  11. What Courses Does Your Child Need for College?: Make sure your child is prepared for college by getting them enrolled in these courses.
  12. Think College Early: This handbook offers resources as you and your student begin to prepare for college.
  13. GreatSchools: Make sure your child is attending a school that can help them with their college dreams by assessing it here.
  14. Early college preparation for middle school and junior high school students: In this handbook, you’ll learn how to introduce your children to the path of college.
  15. High School Plan Steps: Follow these steps to lay out the perfect high school plan for your student.


With the help of these tools, your student will be well prepared for standardized testing.

  1. ACT Advantage: Designed for homeschooled students, you can share this tool with your grade 8-10 student for career planning and ACT test prep.
  2. Test Prep Review: Here you’ll get free sample tests for PSAT, SAT, ACT, and more.
  3. ACT FAQ: Get your ACT questions answered here.
  4. ACT Test Prep: Sample Tests: Have your student take these sample tests to see how they do.
  5. Vocabulary Test Prep: This site offers puzzles to enhance your vocabulary mastery.
  6. ACT Writing Test: Sample Essays: This resource offers sample prompts straight from the ACT.

Acceptance & Choosing a College

You can use these tools to get your student into a college that’s great for them.

  1. Tips for visiting colleges: Read this guide for advice on what to look for when visiting college campuses.
  2. ACT College Search: With this search tool, you’ll be able to narrow down colleges for your student.
  3. Common App: The Common Application can help you save time when helping your student apply for different colleges.
  4. College View: Use College View to search, compare, and get information about potential schools for your child.
  5. US News & World Report: Best Colleges: This set of rankings will help you find the absolute best college for your student.
  6. College Road Tripping for Parents: Check out this article to find out how you can make the most of your college road trip.
  7. Crunch Time: Solving the College Acceptance Dilemma: With this tool, you and your child can rank and compare the best school for your needs.
  8. Questions to Ask on a Campus Visit: Be sure to ask these questions when you go to visit a college campus.
  9. Universal College Application: With this application, you can submit your student’s same application to a variety of different colleges.
  10. Campus Tours: Using Campus Tours, you can make online visits to college campuses.
  11. College QuickFinder: Use this QuickFinder to compare colleges side by side.
  12. College Comparison Checklist: Use this checklist to help your child choose between 4 different colleges.
  13. Glossary of Admission Terms: Using this glossary, you’ll be able to expertly read through admissions information.

Campus Safety

Use these tools to get the lowdown on campus safety before you send your child off on their own.

  1. What Parents Need to Know About College Drinking: You can learn about drinking on campus and what you can do about it from this guide.
  2. A Parent’s Guide to Assessing Campus Security: Read this guide, and you’ll learn about evaluating the safety of college campuses.
  3. Social Networking Sites: Etiquette and Safety: Sharing these tips with your child can help them be more safe on social networking sites.
  4. Addictions and Problem Awareness on Campus: Find out about the three main addictions facing college students today.
  5. Alcohol, Other Drugs, and College: A Parent’s Guide: Read this flyer to learn how to deal with alcohol and drugs in college.


Help your child map out their future career using these tools.

  1. Education Planning Worksheet: Career-Track: Help your student determine the track they’d like to take for their career using this worksheet.
  2. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Using this handbook, you can get a snapshot of hundreds of different types of jobs.
  3. Education and Training Finder: You can search and browse by occupation using this tool.
  4. Quiz to assess children’s natural talents: Take this quiz to find out what your child’s natural gifts are.
  5. BLS Career Information Home Page: Use this resource to help your student find the right career.
  6. MyMajors: MyMajors offers a college major quiz to help your student find the right fit for them.
  7. The Career Key: Have your student take this assessment to find out about good career choices for them.
  8. Major and Career Profiles: Share information about majors and careers with your student through this resource.
  9. TV Fantasy vs. Reality: With this document, you can teach your child the difference between the way careers are portrayed on TV, and what they are like in reality.
  10. Questions to Motivate: With these questions, you can motivate your student to engage in career planning.
  11. Career exploration in middle school: This guide offers help for assisting your student with career planning early on.


These tools will help you get started saving for college, so you’ll be well prepared when the time comes.

  1. A Parent’s Guide to 529 College Savings Plans: Read this guide to learn how you can save for your child’s education.
  2. College Savings Plans Network: This website will provide you with all of the information you need to get started with a college savings plan.
  3. Tuition Savings Calculator: Use this calculator to determine if you’re saving enough for your child’s education.
  4. College Cost Chart: Follow these charts to see how much you need to save for college expenses based on age and interest rate.

Financial Aid

These tools will help you get started with financial aid for college.

  1. FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid should be your first stop when looking for financial aid.
  2. FAFSA4caster: Using this free planning tool, you can explore your financial aid options.
  3. Need Based Financial Aid: Here you’ll learn how you can get money for college based on financial need.
  4. America’s Career InfoNet Scholarship Search: Find a scholarship for your student using this search tool.
  5. Financial Aid 101: In this guide, you’ll find out about the essentials of financial aid.
  6. Avoiding Scholarship Scams: With this resource, you can sniff out scholarship scams before you and your student become victims.
  7. Financial Aid Calendar: Find out what you need to be doing right now using this checklist.
  8. Financial Aid Questions to Ask Colleges: Use this list of questions to get essential information about financial aid from colleges.
  9. Student Loan Comparison: If you’re taking out loans for your student, compare offers with this tool.
  10. Financial Aid Need Estimator: You’ll find out how much you’ll need to pay by using this estimator.
  11. Scholarship Scams: This page from the FTC offers information on current scams.
  12. Parent Guide to Financial Aid: This document offers a financial aid guide for parents.
  13. Financial Aid Advisor: Using this advisor, you’ll be able to get a good look at your financial picture for college.
  14. Financial Aid Need Estimator: With this calculator, you can figure out your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).
  15. Scholarship Scam Online Complaint: If you come across a fraudulent offer, file an online complaint with the FTC here.
  16. Debt/salary wizard: This calculator will help you determine how much you can afford to borrow in student loans.


Get savvy to tax law using these tools for college parents.

  1. Tax Planning for College Costs: In this report, you’ll learn about the tax incentives, consequences, and credits that can affect you and your student.
  2. The College Tax Breaks Explained: Read this article to learn about the tax breaks available to parents paying for college.
  3. Reducing the Cost of College: Take Advantage of Education Tax Credits: This article encourages parents and students to fully use educational tax credits.
  4. Education Tax Credits: College Board offers an explanation of the tax credits related to college education.
  5. Use Your College Tax Credits to Go Green: Here you’ll learn how to use your school tax cuts in a green way.
  6. Tax Benefits for Education: You can find directions for claiming the American Opportunity credit in this IRS publication.
  7. The College Tax Breaks Superpage: On this page, you’ll find all of the important details for taking college tax breaks.
  8. New tax breaks available on college tuition costs: Get the latest in tax break advice from this article.
  9. Lifetime Learning Tax Credit: Check out this IRS publication to learn about the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit.

September 9th, 2009 written by Staff Writers

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