You and your child have run the nation's most famous high school admissions gauntlet! I promise you that the college search will be a breeze in comparison. You can put your feet up, but you may want to keep a couple little hints in your back pocket in case there are some hitches as your kids head off to high school.
- your child may not like their placement (even if it is a coveted one)
Remember that the high school choice process repeats itself in the fall of 9th grade for students who may want to change schools in 10th grade (yay?) If this is a family choice because of an inappropriate placement - go to the matt to help your student get into a better choice school. If this is a case of your student wanting to be with their friends or in a cooler choice school, let them do the process themselves. They need to keep track of the deadlines, follow required instructions and actively work with their guidance counselor to make it happen. In this later case you may find that by the time the Feb. announcement comes around they would NEVER consider transferring from a school and friends that they now love. Even though the numbers may look daunting it is worth going through this process if your current school is not the right one, placements ARE made in coveted schools. You get the choice to take the new placement or remain in your current school.
- encourage them to get involved in clubs and activities as soon as possible
This is tough for a shy freshman, but they won't meet anyone or feel like a part of the school until they do. They just need to bite the bullet and brave the awkward first introductions. It is really, really worth it, and all happy Seniors say that they wished they had done it sooner.
- make connections with other parents in whatever way you can
I don't know of any school PTA that distributes a contact list of students. You are on your own. Your kids don't want you contacting their friend's parents, so don't count on them to help at all. You need these contacts badly though; to find them when their cell phones die, to present a united front when they say, "all my friends are going" to the sketchy party, to trade secrets and maintain your sanity. I took advantage of the very first PTA meetings (the only ones most parents will attend) and actively asked everyone for their kids names and info and I shared my info with that group, as we started to figure out who they were hanging with we found more contacts through mutual middle school parents. Good luck with this one and when your kids say, "why are you butting into my business?" say, "I don't like it, but it is my JOB!"
- you can ignore this one if you like, but really, it is never too early to start to collect a little college knowledge.
They should enjoy high school without the specter of the college search, and there are many, many wonderful schools for all types of kids, but if cost, or selectivity are issues, unfortunately you must stay aware to make sure that your child has the widest options. Getting the SAT or ACT out of the way in Oct of Junior year is a great idea, because it keeps the spring from becoming a pressure cooker. That means prep in the summer after Sophomore year. The kids should always be taking the most appropriately challenging courses at every step and the grades count from the first day. They should take SAT II or AP tests when they complete the appropriate course - for some students that may start in Freshman or Sophomore year. Dropping in on the occasional campus that happens to be near your vacation destinations is a good way to save you from doing it all last minute- and make sure that the school has your name and knows that you visited.
Have a wonderful year!