Parent’s Guide: 5 Questions You Should Ask Your High School Student


Congratulations, you have a high school student who is preparing to embark on an incredible journey! This year will be filled with milestones for you and your student. And, although you’ve been looking forward to this moment for the past 18 years, you may also be filled with questions. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s your short list of questions to ask your student today.

#1. Can I see your high school transcripts?

Taking the time to chat with your student about their transcript can save you stressful conversations in the future. Does your student meet the requirements for a Standard High School Diploma, Advanced Diploma, or Honors Diploma? Do the colleges they apply to require language courses or other high school courses?

You should also ask yourself if your students’ senior year classes are preparing them for their college degree. Although many seniors have the option of taking a lighter schedule, consider using this year to prepare for their major. For example, an engineering degree requires several challenging math courses. Did your student take any pre-calculus or calculus classes in high school? If the answer is no, they should take one of these courses in their senior year.

Graduation courses can also be useful for students who are undecided or choosing between university majors. This is a great time to take classes in areas that might interest them and start sorting through potential majors and careers.

#2. Which colleges will you be applying to this year?

Finding a college can be just as exciting and anxiety-provoking for high school students. With thousands of colleges across the country, how can someone find the best one for them? Work with your student to narrow down their lists and ask questions they may not have thought of.

Do they like water? Do you prefer the city? How far is it from the house? Does the college have its major? Is the campus social? What activities can they do on weekends? College Board is one of the many places you may find useful tools to help you in this process.

#3. When can we talk about your university budget?

The college budget is often the last thing families discuss, but I challenge you to have those conversations first. We all have budgets: mortgage, car, vacation, purchases, etc. College budgets are no different. How much are we (as a family) willing to spend each year in college. “Every year” is an important distinction. Often students look at the cost of one year of college education and ignore the cumulative cost of four (or sex) years. Consider these scenarios:

  • $10,000 a year is $40,000 over four years
  • $30,000 a year is $120,000 over four years
  • $50,000 a year is $200,000 over four years

Although financial aid may pay for some of these costs, it is important to be realistic about the amount of potential grants, scholarships and loans that are available to your student. Have the conversation about money today.

#4. Have you created a list of scholarships you will be applying for this year?

Speaking of money, what money is available for your student? What are grants, scholarships, loans and waivers? What are the requirements? It is important to know not only how much money is available, but also the likelihood of your student receiving these scholarships. Here are some examples:

  • The federal The Pell grant is available to the qualifying student based on family income. The Pell Scholarship range for the 2022-2023 award year is $0 to $6,895. Where does your student fall within this range?
  • The federal student loan is available to eligible students. For most freshmen, the award limit is $5,500 for the 2022-2023 school year, regardless of the cost of college.
  • Western Undergraduate Exchange Programs offer discounted rates to students who participate WICHE pitches. Program eligibility requirements differ for each institution and the number of students accepted into the program may vary from institution to institution.

#5. Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

While many colleges have removed the SAT or ACT requirement from the admissions process, your student can benefit from these exams.

  • Colleges may offer scholarships based on the SAT or ACT.
  • Freshmen may be placed in SAT or ACT based English and Math courses (AP, Dual Credit, IB may also be considered).
  • Scholarship applications may require one of these reviews as part of the process.
  • Low-tuition programs, such as WUE at the University of Nevada, Reno, may allow you to qualify based on test scores.

And don’t forget to review the registration deadlines for the LAW and SAT.

When using this list to start college conversations with your student, be sure to ask for help when needed. Admissions coordinators at the University of Nevada, Reno are here to support you throughout the year as you navigate the college process.


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