LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - If you are preparing your child for college, here's a word of advice: start early and stay involved.
"We recommend that students start preparing for college in their eighth grade year," explained Tamela Kinard, a professional school counselor.
The early start can help them select a high school with a focus in their chosen career if they already have an idea of what they want to do. Kinard says students also have another tool to they can start to use early - the Individual Learning Plan.
"With the Individual Learning Plan, a student will log on," Kinard said. "It has a series of pages and questions and career interest, inventories, and college searches. It is a great tool that I love. It allows students the opportunity to go in and just really explore and it allows me as a counselor to see what they are interested in and it's a help guide in the search and parents can also log in and view their students interest."
Kinard says the biggest mistake that parents make on this road to college is leaving everything up to the student.
"Parents, you can't leave it up to the student," Kinard said. "You have to have that relationship with the school and with the counselor to kind of progress that process."
The biggest mistake a student makes in college preparation is procrastination. They think they have a lot of time, but getting it all done early - or at the very least on time - can really increase the chances of having a smooth college transition.
"Sometimes students plan spring break more than they plan graduation or college," Kinard said with a laugh.
Demetrius Bradford, father of Kahmahl Hess, a junior at Central High School says it takes time to prepare right.
"He has learned the process takes some work," Bradford said. "It's honestly a full time job. We are constantly researching. Just looking at course work, classes. What he can take now that will help him prepare for college classes."
Bradford's biggest worry is on the mind of many parents.
"Honestly, the most difficult thing is preparing financially," Bradford said.
There is some encouraging news among the price hikes in college tuition. Just last year it was documented that there $1.4 million available scholarships went unclaimed.
"What that means is that there are scholarships that are floating out there the students just aren't taking time to investigate or apply," Kinard said.
We all know about the academic scholarship, the sports scholarship and the scholarship based on need but if you take a little trip on the Internet, it's amazing what you could find.
"How many people are left handed? Kinard asked. "OK, type 'left handed scholarships.' There you have it. How many people are natural redheads? Type in 'redhead scholarship.' The money is there. It just goes unclaimed."
Scholarships of all kinds can be found on the Internet. If you make a piece of clothing from duct tape, you may be eligible for the duct tape scholarship. There is also a scholarship for students raised by a single mom or their grandparents. You just have to search.
For athletes, www.ncaaclearinghouse.com is extremely useful to help them qualify for an athletic scholarship.
Also, don't forget if you are a Jefferson County Public School Student, you receive the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES money) if your GPA is 2.5 or higher. It will be awarded to any student that plans to attend a Kentucky college.
The money for KEES is supplied by Kentucky Lottery proceeds. You do not have to apply for a KEES scholarship. It is sent automatically to the college your attending after the school lets KHEEA know that you are attending classes. The better the student does in school, the more money they will earn for college or technical school.