8 Tips for Seniors from a College Advisor


Do you have a child starting college soon?  This should be a fun and exciting time for you and your child as they embark on a new adventure. However, the process can sometimes leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and unsure of where to start.

I started college over ten years ago, but I have eight years of experience working in higher education, and seven of those years were dedicated to advising students. Here are a few tips to take the stress out of the process and allow you to enjoy this experience with your child.


Parents and child at college 8 Tips for seniors from a College Advisor
Photo credit: Mississipp College/Facebook

Learning and skill building does not just occur in the classroom. It is time to let your child lead during this process. Every child is different – some want their parents involved and others do not. Even if your child wants you to be involved, do not do it for them.  You can still listen to them, support them, guide them, and cheer them on while also teaching them to be responsible and make decisions for their future.

Letting your child lead now sets them up for success in the classroom. If you want this more than your child does, that will reflect in their academic performance. Your child will feel empowered to take the lead while you can act as a safety net and support them.


Parents and child at college 8 Tips for seniors from a College Advisor 2
Photo credit: Alcorn State University/Facebook

On this same line of thought, remember to listen to your child. A bachelor’s degree does not create success. We all want to see our children succeed, but your child may have a different view of what that looks like.

There are many options available to them, whether that is a certification, career program, technical program, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. You can certainly force them to do it your way, but you may find yourself paying for the same classes more than once. By listening and offering guidance, you can steer your child on a positive path to success.


Priority admission deadlines for new freshman are usually in the fall semester of a student’s senior year of high school.  Scholarship deadlines can be as early as December.

This means your high school senior should be submitting their college application in the next few months. This time will fly by, and there are a lot of deadlines, especially if your child is planning to apply to more than one place.

Starting early allows you to do research and set a plan to meet all application and financial aid deadlines.  


Students at college 8 Tips for seniors from a College Advisor
Photo credit: University of Southern Mississippi/Facebook

It is not too late to tour colleges or universities. Contact the admissions office to arrange a tour. Not only will you gain a lot of valuable information, but your child can get a feel for how they will fit into the community.

Most admission offices offer general campus tours and information, so if your child already has a major (or two) in mind, ask about meetings with someone in those areas. This will give you a more personalized experience, and the academic unit will be able to answer more specific questions about your child’s intended major.  


Whether you believe you qualify for federal aid or not, submit your FAFSA on time every year. Visit the FAFSA website and contact your financial aid office for application deadlines each year.  

Some scholarships also require you to have a FAFSA on file at your university. It does not hurt to file your FAFSA and turn down student loans if you do not need them, but you do not want to miss out on a scholarship because you missed the FAFSA deadline.


Students at college 8 Tips for seniors from a College Advisor
Photo credit: Mississippi State University/Facebook

In addition to federal aid, the state of Mississippi offers financial aid opportunities.  They offer a few different grant and scholarship options as well as forgivable loan and repayment programs.  


Is your child an athlete?  Are you a member of a local credit union?  Private scholarships are offered everywhere.  You just have to look.  Again, it never hurts to apply.  The worst that can happen is your child does not get the scholarship – but what if they are chosen?  That would be AWESOME!  

Universities also offer foundation scholarships that are separate from the general scholarships offered by admissions. Apply for these scholarships every year.

The requirements are different for each scholarship because they are founded by donors who set their requirements for the scholarship recipient. The requirement could be as simple as “A business major who resides in Harrison County.”  You can ask the admission office to point you in the right direction for these scholarships.


Students at college 8 Tips for seniors from a College Advisor 3
Photo credit: University of Mississippi/Facebook

This is an exciting time for you and your child. Soak up this moment and make it an enjoyable and memorable experience.

About the Author

Mother and daughters
Heather is a stay-at-home mom with her two girls, Phoebe and Penelope. This is a new role after eight years of working in higher education. Heather is beyond excited for this extra time and memories she gets to make with her girls. She was born and raised in Louisiana until she moved to Mississippi for her junior year of high school. Her husband, Jared, is her high school sweetheart. They recently found a love for RV camping. Heather runs on coffee and sticky kisses and enjoys listening to audiobooks.