Families & Guardians > Preparing for College

Preparing for College

What can I do to encourage my child's college aspirations?

Talk to your child about college: Why is it important, how can it change a person’s future, and what kinds of opportunities—academic, social, economic—does it create?

Help set your child up for academic success by providing clear and quiet places to do homework. Make sure that academic achievement and support are a priority in your household. When time and resources permit, be involved in your child’s education. Meet teachers and counselors and keep track of your child’s progress.

What kinds of classes will help my son or daughter prepare for college?

When choosing classes, students should always seek out courses that will enrich and challenge them, not just classes that they think will “look good” on a transcript. Every college reads applications differently, so it’s difficult to predict what will "look good" to every institution.

When college admissions staff members read applications, their first concern is whether a student is academically well–prepared to do college–level work. At the University of Chicago, no specific secondary school courses are prescribed, but there is a recommended standard college preparatory program:

Different schools offer different options for obtaining credit and satisfying course requirements. Four common options are placement tests, Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, accreditation exams, and International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs. Encourage your child to take advantage of these opportunities during high school to get a head start on college course work.

What role do extracurricular activities play in college preparation?

Many selective schools aren’t looking for specific extracurricular activities. They don’t assume that those students will continue doing the same kinds of things in college. They do, however, seek students who have energy and interests and who care about the communities in which they live and study.

The University of Chicago certainly fits that description. In the class of 2016, the primary extracurricular activity for incoming students was community service (81%), followed by varsity athletics (53%) and music (44%). Students were also active in student government, theater, school newspapers, literary magazines, and yearbooks while in high school.