If your child has recently graduated from high school or is about to graduate, then he or she might have plans for getting a higher education. This is probably something that you are excited about—but as a parent, you might not be sure of how to help. These are a few helpful tips that can help you prepare your child for going to college. Consider this a quick introduction to the world of financial aid and Common Applications. Consider the Gap Year Talk to your child about the benefits of taking a gap year. This can be a good way for students to get a little bit of a break after graduating from high school and before getting started with college. This can even be a good way for you to encourage your child to become a responsible global citizen, since he or she can participate in a gap year program that will allow him or her to travel abroad. Don't Overlook Community College Before your child starts applying for universities, it might be a good idea for you to talk to him or her about the benefits of attending a community college. For some students, a two-year program or even a certificate program might be sufficient for his or her plan of study. For others, simply attending a community college for the first two years can be a good way to earn credits while saving money on tuition and housing expenses. Consider looking into some of the community college programs in your area to see if this might be a good option for your son or daughter. Help Your Child with Applications If your child is going to be attending a university, then it is important to help him or her with the application process. Application dates are often quite early in the year, so you will want to make sure that your son or daughter makes any deadlines. Additionally, you may want to provide some help with filling out these applications, which can be a bit daunting for many teens. Visit a Broad Variety of Campuses Before your teen makes a decision on a certain college, it's a good idea to make sure that he or she has an idea of everything that is out there. Therefore, it is definitely a good idea to tour a few different college campuses to get a better feel for these options. If you contact some of the colleges that your student is thinking about attending, then you should be able to find out more about the sorts of tours they offer. Look Into Financial Aid Options The truth is that college can be quite expensive. Now is a good time to start thinking about financial aid and how you and your child are going to pay for his or her college education. If you have been saving for your child's college education, now is a good time to take a look at what you have saved up and get an idea of what your family can afford. Even though you probably do not want your child to pick his or her college based off of cost alone, this is a big factor for many families. Therefore, you may want to compare tuition rates and other expenses between different schools when making a decision. Now is also a good time to start encouraging your son or daughter to start filling out scholarship applications and to start looking into financial aid options. You may also want to take the time to talk to your teen about the dangers of student loan debt and how to minimize this debt by minimizing costs, taking on a job while in college and more. As a parent whose kid is about to go off to college, you are probably dealing with a mix of emotions. If you follow these tips, however, you can help ensure that both you and your child are as prepared as possible for this life change, and ready to embrace it. Featured image courtesy of Library of Congress.