I am the mother of two teenage boys. That’s not a statement made to elicit cries of sympathy, or congratulations for having made it thus far with mostly just my grey hair to tell the tale, but more as an introduction to the wonderful teen/teen parent friendly resources available to CLP library users free of charge – especially for those of you who will soon be traveling down the college-search road.
This summer, using our family vacation as a backdrop, we started visiting various colleges based on some parameters my 17 year-old had already decided upon: size, major, geography and demography. From what I gather from friends and family who have already taken this route, we seem to be a bit ahead of the game compared to many others his age. I will take some credit for his receiving this advanced planning/organized gene – he is the son of a librarian after all.
Besides the college tours, he is now in the throes of preparing to take the first of several college entrance exams over the coming months. Study guides, practice tests, prep courses are all part and parcel of many teens’ lives during the second half of their high school careers, and this particular teen is no stranger to the protocol. All of this preparing for college can end up costing parents a pretty penny (those which can barely be spared when considering the inevitable tuition at the end of this road.)
As a parent of a near college aged child, and as a librarian/library user of the city and county libraries, I am happy to know that there are many resources available for us and those in a similar situation. Your free public library and library card can come to the rescue of not only the teen’s search and prep, but the parents’ pocketbook as well. One very excellent resource is the Testing and Education Reference Center (TERC) which is, as I quote from the webpage, a “database of college, graduate & vocational schools that also offers test preparation & practice exams for high school, college entrance, professional certification and licensing, military, and civil service.” SAT, and ACT, among other practice exams, are available through this database free of charge.
My husband and I have already attended the obligatory meetings provided by the high school’s guidance office: College Search 101, Financial Aid Assistance, etc. Soon we will be meeting one-on-one with our son’s guidance counselor, but we feel all the more prepared, having visited the TERC database on numerous occasions, assuaging our trepidations (SAT vocab help via “word of the day” are also available within this database.) Not only have we found the Testing and Education Reference Center helpful, but we have visited the “We Can Help You with… Education” page from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s website as well. We soon discovered after our third all-in-the-family college tour this past summer, that a trailing 13 year old younger brother is no fun for anyone involved, and so we are able to virtually tour many of the prospective colleges on our son’s list without all the whining and complaining that goes with bringing a younger sibling along on an actual tour.
For my family, I foresee more college tours and many more visits to CLP’s various resources over the coming year, especially as the search for college scholarships and other avenues of funding are sought, and based on the throngs of people we have encountered so far on the various tours, I know we’re not alone in this process. I cannot stress enough the value of the free resources available to those of you who might be in the same situation. Wherever you and your child are in planning for a post high school career, and no matter what their goals, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh provides several avenues of assistance, just a click away.