When you get to high school, the focus is on getting in to college. There are many people in our area who have a specific college in mind for their kid (or several very high ranking specific ones). I don't understand that. Of course, I want my kids to have a good life. But I think the college they choose should be up to them and they shouldn't feel pressured to go to a certain school. (Of course, if they've heard their whole lives that they have to go to a certain school, or a certain kind of school to have a certain kind of life, they will "want" to go to those schools.)
We know what goals oNe has and I have shared several schools with her that we know she can get in and that would be a good fit for her. I'm sure she'll end up with some on the list and some different ones by the time the deadline gets here, but we're not going to stress about it. We will keep talking and let her be in the driver's seat. (I know there are some kids who need more guidance, but I would encourage them to figure out what they want instead of figuring out what I want for them, but that's just me.)
Recently, NYTimes Well Family blog had a post about college and it's very enlightening. One tip that I learned is that we'll submit early (do it over the summer!). Other things from the article: We will make sure that for each kid, we'll know what they want from a school. We'll make sure we are doing some more community service... We are lacking in that department. It's a good reminder for us. We won't take every advanced course. (oNe could have taken the SUPER-DUPER advanced math course in her freshman year, but she opted not to take it. It is fine. I know parents who wouldn't have allowed that transgression to occur.)
I love the spreadsheet tip and the "get a job" in the summer tip so that you can learn from diverse situations. Each summer, I look for opportunities for the girls to be mother's helpers (as the girls are still young). This summer, oNe will take the baby sitting course and get certified. She already kind of has a job (taking care of animals); I wish twoK could take the course at age 12, but she can't until she is 13. oNe going to college and twoK going to college will be two very different experiences. Three-a will make it three different experiences. Oh, wow! If you'd have told me 10 years ago that I'd be thinking about colleges now, I would have said, yea, whatevs. Even 2 years ago, I wouldn't have believed you. It goes so fast!