Conversations to have with your student, tools for estimating college costs and more.

Whether you’re the parent of a high schooler or college freshman, you’re likely thinking about what’s next, because it seems like there’s always something to prepare for. This post provides links to recent articles that can provide answers and relieve some of your stress.

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Talks to have with your student On the Empty House Full Mind blog, Sharon Greenthal discusses the seven conversations to have with your high school senior. Topics include sex and birth control, the importance of going to class and more.

With your freshman finishing up their first semester, it will soon be time to talk about how they did academically. Sherri Kuhn writes in the Washington Post about what to do if your child comes home with grades that don’t meet your expectations.

If your student has given you a heads up that they’re struggling, you might want to check out my post on where your student can find help on campus—in time for finals.

Also, take a look at my post on why freshmen should visit the career services office to start a discussion on your student’s choice of major and career goals.

Another look at AP courses On the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, Jessica Lahey addresses the question of whether you should encourage your teenager to take AP courses. Though I’ve had issues with the content and structure of AP courses when my own children were in high school, the upside to earning college credit before stepping foot on campus is twofold: significant tuition savings and flexibility in college course selection. APs enable some students to graduate college early, dual major or take a lighter load during an academically challenging semester.

Also from the New York Times, Daniel Grant writes about the challenges AP Studio Art students face to meet the requirements for college credit because grades are based on skill and not necessarily knowledge, as they are in other academic courses.

calculator2College cost calculations Wondering how to figure out what a college’s tuition bill will really add up to for your child? Susannah Snider of U.S. News & World Report shares eight tools that can help. Getting a better handle on the price tag might be the incentive your family needs to save better or for your student to apply for those scholarships you’ve been talking about.

If your daughter has a strong interest in joining a sorority, read this article by Risa C. Doherty for the New York Times on the financial impact of Greek life.

Why college matters Vivek Wadhwa writes in the Washington Post about the importance of a college education, including the impossible-to-ignore economic advantages, as well as the opportunity to learn basic skills such as management, finance, communications and working within a group.

College admissions is hard on parents, too On her Grown & Flown blog, Lisa Heffernan shares the 11 reasons why college application season may be a more difficult experience than you expected. Reason number one: you’re watching your child prepare to leave. Yes, the whole process can be a bit of rollercoaster ride.

The slim acceptance numbers at the most elite colleges tend to convince parents and students that getting into any good school is impossible. But Kevin Carey debunks the myth of extreme selectivity in his article for the New York Times. He believes teenagers who work hard will get into the majority of colleges where they apply.

In the comments section below, please share your thoughts on the articles mentioned here or others you’ve found helpful.