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Grade 12 Parents and Families

This is it! There are a lot of steps your child will need to take this year and a lot of details to keep track of. If you or your child have questions, talk to your school counselor or college access provider right away. You don’t want to miss any important deadlines or overlook an important detail. Here are some steps to help your child make good decisions and stay on track:

All Year

  • Have high expectations. Make it clear that good grades and good attendance are important. Let teachers and counselors know that you expect your child to go to college and ask for their advice and support.
  • Encourage your child to research careers related to his or her interests. Help him or her find out what colleges specialize in those fields and what it takes to get into those colleges.
  • Encourage your child to volunteer in community service activities or participate in job shadowing opportunities to explore his or her interests and learn more about different kinds of workplaces. Plus, many scholarships require students to demonstrate a history of community service.
  • Encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities, including clubs focused on careers, such as teaching or business. This will give your child a chance to explore interests and improve his or her chances of being eligible for a scholarship.
  • Get involved in school by volunteering, participating in parent-teacher organizations, and attending school events. Your involvement will have a big impact on your child's education.


  • With your child, make a calendar of college admission test dates, campus visits, college application deadlines, financial aid deadlines, and other important things to do this year.
  • Encourage your child to make a list of community service work, extracurricular activities, academic and personal awards or recognition, and other factors that could strengthen his or her college application.
  • Gather paperwork needed for financial aid applications. (See Required Documents for more information.)
  • Make sure your child applies for scholarships.
  • Help your child narrow down his or her college choices and start filling out applications. (Remember that applications are due in early fall for early admission or early action, but even students applying for the regular admission deadline should be starting to fill them out now.) Be sure to check with each college about application deadlines and any other information they need, such as transcripts, to complete the application package. Help make sure that your child requests letters of recommendation, transcripts, and other items well in advance of the deadlines, and keep track of things when they arrive. Offer to proofread applications before they’re submitted or encourage your child to ask a teacher or counselor to proofread.
  • Talk to school counselors and teachers to make sure your child's skills are on track to graduate high school and be ready for college. If he or she is behind, talk with the school counselor, teachers, or college access provider to make sure your child gets the help he or she needs.
  • Discuss taking the SAT or ACT again, and make sure your child registers by the deadline.
  • Attend college nights or college fairs, such as the Greater Washington National College Fair on Oct. 12, 2010. Your child's school and other DC organizations may invite college representatives to visit other times as well. Talk to your child's counselor or college access provider to find out more.


    • Pay your federal and DC income taxes as soon as possible after January 1, so you’ll have what you need to complete financial aid forms and your child will have a better chance of receiving a larger award.
    • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as you can after January 1 to find out whether your child is eligible for federal financial aid. As soon as you get the Student Aid Report back from the U.S. Department of Education, file the DC OneApp to find out if your child is eligible for DC financial aid. (Find out more about the financial aid process.)
    • Remind your child that good grades and attendance are still important — colleges consider students' courses and grades for senior year. Discuss any areas where your child needs help and talk to the school counselor about getting extra support.
    • Double check to make sure your child has all the classes and credits required for high school graduation and college admission or is on track to take them next semester.


      • Respond to any additional financial aid inquiries from the U.S. Department of Education, the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, or your child's colleges.
      • Together, review financial aid offers and help your child decide which school he or she will attend. Help your child decide which option is best academically and financially — the school that provides the most financial aid may not be the best fit. (For tips and resources to help, see Make Your Decision.)
      • Apply for additional scholarships if the financial aid package does not cover all of your child's costs. (See Unmet Need for other tips to cover costs.)
      • When your child has decided on a college, work with your child to meet the deadlines for sending in the deposit, applying for student housing, and other items the college requires. If your child was accepted at more than one college, let the others know your student will not be attending.
      • If the college your child will be attending offers a summer orientation program, encourage him or her to attend. These programs give your child a chance to get familiar with the campus, which will make the transition easier.


        • Make sure your child's school sends final grades to the college.
        • Encourage your child to take a part-time job. He or she can explore career interests and save money for college.
        • With your child, make a budget that includes all school expenses, plus extras such as clothing and travel. Talk about where the money will come from, what your child is responsible for, and what he or she can expect from you or others.
        • Make any necessary arrangements for any medical exams and evaluate whether to get student health insurance or whether your family's insurance coverage is sufficient.

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          Keva's son graduated from Cesar Chavez and is going to Potomac State College ... view video (1:45)

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          You need to submit your taxes before your child sends in the FAFSA.

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