Parents are students’ only hope at getting into college

Extra-curricular programs are nice, but high GPAs and ACT scores must be the target

We’re at the halfway point of the 2021-2022 school year. Mid-terms are being taken, scholarship applications are being submitted and preparations have begun for collegiate matriculation. However, what happens when this process only applies to a few students, leaving the majority with no hope for higher education and a degree that will ensure them employment in the future? We depend on the school districts to take care of the educational matters for twelve years of a student’s life. In many homes, students are pulled in a number of directions with programs that occupy their time after school hours. The extra-curricular programs are nice, but high GPAs and ACT scores must be the target.

Extra-curricular programs are meant to compliment the curricular programs. However, for many, they are huge distractions. There should be a requirement, not by the school but by the parent, to participate in extra-curricular programs. If your child does not possess at least a 3.0 GPA, he or she shouldn’t be engaged in any “extra” curricular programs…especially programs for which you are paying. You can’t depend on the school to set the standard for your house and the expectations for your child. If the child has enough time for extra-curricular programs, they have time for study and preparation for classwork. You as the parent have to be the advocate for your child.

In many homes, parents are mostly concerned with what makes the child happy and not what is best for him or her. Often, what its best for them will not always make them happy, like eating quality food over Little Debbie cakes. Broccoli and milk may not make them as happy as a sweet cake, but a good parent knows that in the end, their health will be better for the choice.

As a teen, I was an honor roll student at Carroll until the coach let me travel with the football team. Football games became my life and my grades started dropping. I was grounded for almost two months and had an additional book reading assignment until the grades improved. No boy scouts, no football games, no Bayou Classic. Nothing. The school didn’t recommend this. However, this was the standard that was set for me by my parents. It was their call….not the school’s call.

Last month, I took seven girls in my youth group to see the movie “King Richard” starring Will Smith. The movie depicted the life of Tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. Although they are well known sports celebrities, the movie centered on their father and his struggle to guide them through the process of becoming champions. When they were at the apex of their sports careers as teenagers, their father pulled them out of competitions, even after receiving millions of dollars in endorsement offers. He told them that those were his daughters and it was his decision if they played or not. He said they needed to be kids and get their education, then they could engage in extra-curricular pursuits. It’s so nice to know that we live in a country where the parent still has the final say in what goes on in the lives of their children.

Students should begin taking the ACT in their Freshman year to get a baseline and to begin the breakdown of anxiety surrounding test-taking. Parents also have to ensure that the school of which their student attends offers classes which adequately prepare them to be successful on the test. Despite the controversy of bias surrounding standardized tests, it remains the best signal to colleges of a student’s level of productivity as much as a college degree provides the same signal to employers of a prospective employee’s level of productivity. The grades which teachers record can be manipulated. Aptitude measured on the ACT and SAT is not as easy to be manipulated. It is what it is.

Parents, you bear the responsibility for your child’s education. You decide what school they go to or if they go to school at all. You can homeschool them yourselves if you think that’s their better option. It’s YOUR CALL. There’s power in that decision. A power that comes with a great responsibility. You also bear the responsibility of the high costs of college tuition if they don’t get scholarships for lack of decent academic preparation, ACT, or SAT scores.

Be the advocate…not just in their senior year, but every year, every day. You have to make the hard calls and put reinforcements in place to correct non-productive behavior and instill good academic habits. If not, they don’t stand a chance. You are their last hope for success.