Thanksgiving Talking Points

6 Conversations to Have with Your High Schooler over Thanksgiving Break

With Thanksgiving Break upon us, we know you will be spending some extra (much-needed) time with your high school student. Between the traditions, turkey and mashed potatoes, we wanted to provide you and your student with a few conversation starters related to college and the college search process.

1. What is most important to you in a school?

As you probably know very well, there are many factors that play into what school is best for your student: location, size, faculty, proximity to home, programs, athletics, and more! Encourage your student to determine their top two or three factors to help them narrow down their list.

2. Are there any other schools that you want to visit that you haven’t yet?

Taking the time to visit a school is so important! While you can learn a lot of information through brochures, mailers and websites, there is nothing quite like visiting campus. It is the best way to get a true feel for the community and atmosphere, and you can typically even meet your (potentially) future professors. To sign up for an IWU visit day, check out

3. How big of a role does financial aid play in your decision? Have you filed your FAFSA?

Determining how much your student can spend on college is a large part of the college search process. Regardless of what that number is, we highly recommend that everyone fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Once your student receives their financial aid packages from the schools to which they applied, they will be better equipped to make the best decision possible.

The FAFSA is now open for the 2019-2020 school year. The deadline to file is April 15, but we recommend submitting as early as possible.

4. How confident do you feel in your major decision?

If your student feels set on their intended major, great! If not, that’s okay too! If your student is questioning what they want to study, encourage them to enter college as pre-declared. This gives them the opportunity to complete some general education requirements while giving them a bit more time to discover what major they want to commit to.

At IWU, we are passionate about investing in pre-declared students to help them as they navigate the decision process. Our unique Life Calling & Integrative Learning program offers students life coaching and pre-declared student advising, which help students discover their strengths and how to best use those in a future career.

5. Do you want to consider taking the ACT/SAT again?

Talk to your student about the possibility of taking the ACT/SAT again. While they may have already received a great score, some universities—like IWU—offer tiered academic scholarships based on students’ ACT/SAT scores, which means your student may be able to earn a larger scholarship!

6. What are your next steps?

Applying to college—especially multiple colleges—can be a confusing process! Make sure your student is clear about where they are at in each of their application processes and what their next steps are.

Here is a quick rundown of next steps at IWU:

  • Apply
  • Submit your deposit
  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Submit your housing application
  • Sign up for registration/Admitted Student Weekend

We hope this list is helpful as you navigate college-related conversations with your high school student over break. Please visit for more information!

Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!


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