Skip to main content

Family Engagement in School

Graduation and Life After High School

In order to graduate, high school coursework must include at least the minimum state course credit requirements. A credit is earned when a student successfully completes or passes a class, such as math, English, or biology.

According to Minnesota State Law , students must complete a minimum of 21.5 credits in:

  • English – 4 credits
  • Math – 3 credits
  • Science – 3 credits
  • Social studies – 3.5 credits
  • Art – 1 credit
  • Electives – 7 credits

Communication is Key

Important information from your student's school is often sent to you by email. Encourage your student to check their email regularly and also do so yourself! It's great practice for college and future careers.

Use clear and concise communication when emailing teachers, counselors, or college representatives. For example, include your contact information. Use a subject line and greeting, recount dates and names and how you would like the issue resolved.

Quick Tips for Student Organization

Keep an eye on deadlines for assignments and applications. Also, save copies of everything you submit. Teachers, colleges, and organizations may ask you to resend any missing information.

Resources to help keep your student on track:

  • High School Planning Checklist — MN Goes to College

    A one-page checklist for each grade 9 – 12 to prepare for college

  • College and Career Resource Guide — South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center

    An easy-to-follow college and career resource guide

  • Prepare for College — Mapping Your Future

    An interactive guide to help you and your student prepare for college

  • 10 Ways to Help Your Teen Succeed in School — Kids Health

    Parents can play a vital role in helping teens succeed in school by being informed and lending support and guidance. Even though teens are seeking independence, family engagement is an important ingredient for academic success.

Timeline for Junior Year

Fall

  • Connect with your school's guidance counselor(s) to check if your student is on track with credits and other graduation requirements. Also, these are the best school staff to approach if you have questions about your child's post-secondary and career options.
  • Help your student learn about colleges, training, or vocational program options. List the features that interest them. Search online to find program and school websites for more information. Talk to your student's guidance counselor(s) about what each college or program requires and if your student has or will meet those requirements before graduation.
  • Talk to your student's guidance counselor(s) about taking the Pre-American College Test (ACT) or Pre-Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Find out whether or not these tests are required by the schools or programs to which your student plans on applying.

Winter

  • Have your student sign up to take the ACT or SAT in the spring. Remind them to check with their high school for registration information.
  • Keep in touch with your student's guidance counselor(s) or other school staff support person. If you cannot connect with your student's guidance counselor, you can use the support of a mentor to help you and your student plan for their future.

Spring

  • Have your student develop a list of 4-year, 2-year, vocational, or technical colleges that interest them
  • Have your student take the SAT and/or the ACT (if they are required)

Summer

  • Have your student create a resume, a record of their academic accomplishments, extra-curricular activities, and work experience since starting high school

Timeline for Senior Year

September – January

Have your student:

  • Reach out to teachers for letters of recommendation. Be aware of deadlines and what materials are needed.
  • Begin the application process. Use resources and teachers to review required materials (e.g., college essays) before submitting.
  • Explore the cost of each option. Start the search for financial support. Scholarships, grants, and Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are resources to look into. Ask your guidance counselor(s) for information and resources. If applying to college, complete at least one college application by Thanksgiving. Before the holiday break in December, some college applications must be submitted. If applying to a technical college or vocational program, check the deadlines for when applications need to be submitted.
  • Now is the time to think about a financial plan. Sit down as a family and consider the best options. Ensure that everyone understands what scholarships and grants will or will not pay for. Budget for out-of-pocket costs.

January – June

  • Encourage your student to keep pushing forward in school! Grades still matter. Colleges look to see if they kept up in classes and stayed involved.
  • If you have the opportunity, visit colleges or programs before inquiring about attending. You can also do a virtual tour.
  • Once your student accepts their school, have them communicate with their high school to ensure that a final transcript will be sent. Reach out to the financial aid office at the school for additional financial help. Look into community institutions and organizations for scholarships.

Resources

  • Graduation Tip Cards: Helping Students Step into a Successful Future
    This set of three laminated tip cards will assist families and school staff to support students in achieving high school graduation while planning for their future. The cards have questions to ask and tasks to do from the first day of high school to the graduation ceremony and beyond. Special emphasis on culturally diverse families. One side is written for families; the other side is for school staff. To order, email [email protected].
  • From MN Goes to College: