“Why are you dressing up to go to class?” I asked my son as he fiddled with his tie Monday morning. “Because the fraternity I am joining has us dress up on Monday’s to look good,” he answered. Interesting… I thought to myself, as I grabbed my camera to snap a picture of Cristian and his college fraternity friend.
I didn’t know in that moment that I was going to write this post motivated by Univision’s “¡Edúcate, es el momento!” 7 Day Call to Action Effort to Further Impact Hispanic Educational Attainment campaign. (shared by Julito Varela on Facebook)
I was a proud mama especially after the months of planning his college applications, filling out financial aid forms, going to special parent meetings at his high school and motivating him countless of times to get on the computer to find grants or scholarships for many long, long hours!! There were times when I almost pulled my hairs for the amount of time and dedication it required.
I remember one day, I logged into the FAFSA application online to check on the status weeks after filling it out and noticed that it said Cristian had gotten funds years before. “What???” , as my head started going into a tailspin. It turned out that I had put in the wrong social security number!!!! More paperwork to repair the oversight and damage, but finally, in due time, all was in good order.
En Español: Motivando A Mi Hijo
I realized during this process how easy it is to give up, but I refused to go that negative route. I was lucky that he had a pre-paid community college plan, which paid for part of the tuition, but it wasn’t enough for FIU, the college he had his heart on and coincidently, my own alma mater.
And to top things off, he missed the Bright Futures program by 1 point….1 measely little point. The Bright Futures is a merit based award in Florida which you can only apply in your senior year of high school. He gets good grades, at least a 3.4, but in testing for the ACT and SAT, he scored lower than average(on 3 different attempts!) That happens to some students, they get nervous or blank out.
So this Monday, I was beaming with joy that my son not only got a chance to go to college, but the fact that he is super motivated in bettering himself with attitude, focus and determination and hanging out with positive mentors in a fraternity and great college that encourages personal development. He is studying Business Adminstration with Entrepreunership.
So my tips to successfully navigating the college application process is:
-Make a to do list with timeline of deadlines for the applications.
-Apply on time. Don’t wait until the last minute.
-Check and double check everything.
-Call each organization and ask as many questions as you can.
-Go online directly to fafsa.gov to apply for financial aid. This has to be renewed every year your child is in college to be eligible.
-Get your accounting and tax returns in order.
-Fill everything out with your son or daughter. Don’t do it alone for them. They need to be involved.
-Go to every college planning parent meeting they offer in your child’s high school.
-Don’t get frustrated, be an example to your child that you are persistent, so they can learn to acquire this quality.
-Enjoy the process. Have fun with them and keep motivating them. Yes time flies very fast. :( He’s a man now…and I am letting him spread his wings, while I observe in the background with a proud happy heart.
- Most importantly, give them a quiet space during all their high school years to be able to study in silence and be there for them. It will pay off in the end. They act like teens and wanting of independence, but they still need you to be there for them to support them. Create a space that supports focus to be able to utilize the mind to study well.
And my greatest words of wisdom: You as a parent, have to be motivated to motivate your child. I know there are a handful of teens that are self motivated and do all the application process themselves, but I suspect that is not the norm. You know, they are teens…..!!!! Do it as a team effort.
Useful resources I found:
Ultimate Money Skills website by Bank of America. ( They were the ones that spoke at a parents meeting in high school last year.)
College Applications Facebook Group moderated by two wonderful and dedicated Latina bloguera friends: Angelica Perez and Monica Olivera Hazelton
And lastly, here I share a picture of my son’s high school graduation this May, 2011…a bittersweet moment…yes, I always choke up when I see this picture…