Parents play an essential role in preparing students for college. In fact, new research from the National Honor Society found that many students rely on parental advice the most when applying for college. The following are basic tips any parent can follow to help a student prepare for college and a lifetime of success.

Start thinking about college early
Today, preparing for college can be a complex process that requires students to start early. The majority of college admission officers recommend students start preparing for college before or by ninth grade. Start by sitting down with your students at different times throughout the school year to talk about college and how they can prepare. Review this timeline as a guide.

Help your students select appropriate coursework
Good grades and strong test scores are a critical part of college admissions. College admission officers say academic success is the most important quality they look for in students. Make sure your students are enrolled in the appropriate college-prep classes and key core requirements, and that they are doing well in them.

Stay involved in your student’s academic life
Students learn better with involved parents, so it’s important to maintain frequent contact with their teachers throughout the school year to understand how they are performing and progressing.

Get your students involved in extracurricular and cocurricular activities
Admission officers look beyond good grades. They search for well-rounded students who participate in extracurricular and cocurricular activities. These activities can help develop important skills like leadership, so encourage your teens to join a school club, program, and/or sport at school.

Encourage your students to be active in the community
Colleges look at the whole picture, from academics to community service experience. In fact, to evaluate a student’s character, the majority of admission officers look for participation in community service programs. Encourage your students to participate in service projects they are passionate about in your local community. Click here for some idea starters.

Help your students with time management
Learning to balance academics with clubs and a social life can be a challenge for many students at first. Remain available and willing to help your students if they need assistance managing their workload.

Identify postsecondary goals
Help your students explore career options of interest. Learn what your students are interested in and help identify courses, clubs, and internships that align with their future goals.

Discuss paying for college
College affordability continues to be a concern for families, and 50 percent of students worry that they will not be able to pay for college. Discussing college finances with your students early will benefit you both and will give them a clearer understanding of their options after high school. Also be on the lookout for the numerous scholarship opportunities available. Learn more about paying for college here.