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Today's Family Magazine

Preparing your babies for college

By Laura Lytle

Thinking about sending your kids to college can be stressful, overwhelming, scary, exciting, happy and sad –– all at once sometimes –– but parents can find support, resources and expert advice from Getting Our Babies to College 101.

Parents get peer-to-peer advice from Jowan Smith, founder of Getting Our Babies to College 101, through workshops and individual consultations.  She presents her workshop at churches, libraries, and community centers.  She has also partnered with a few local schools to present her strategy for post high school success.

“In middle school, my daughter told me she wanted to go to college.  I was excited for her but didn’t know where to start… and most of the information I found was for older students,” explained Jowan Smith.  “So I started searching. It was overwhelming at times, but I didn’t want to wait to make our decisions.  I wanted to plan early. After months of searching and many stressful nights, I knew I had the answers that every family needed to make informed decisions.”

She admits the most challenging tasks are understanding the applications, meeting deadlines and finding scholarship money.  However, now that she has gone through the process (and is about to again) she knows she can help students and families make a plan for where they want to be after high school and how to make it happen.

She spent extensive research on athletic scholarships and NCAA eligibility.

“Learning the athletic rules and staying on task to be eligible for college sports takes a lot of extra effort.  It can be overwhelming at times for students to stay within the guidelines.  I want to help students and their parents to get through the process,” said Smith.
While most students have a personal plan that includes college, she knows that is not the right fit for everyone.

“We want what’s best for our children and their future.  Sometimes that means a four-year college, but it could also be trade school, community college or other career training programs.  I help each student and family make a personal plan that follows his or her interests and life goals,” she said.

“That also means letting them choose their own college.  Each student needs to find the best fit for them, regardless of their parents’ preference.  After all, the student is the person going to learn and live there,” Smith added.

The best part of Getting Our Babies to College 101 advice is that it’s free!

“I don’t want my program to be an extra cost for anyone.  There is enough stress worrying about paying for college or trade school.  My reward is the end game – getting ‘our babies’ into college and living successful and satisfying lives,” said Smith.

Smith also has personal experience in finding success for students with disabilities.  Her daughter’s dyslexia made school challenging, but not impossible.  She graduated sixth in her high school class and is enjoying her second year of college in Pennsylvania.

For more information on resources for Getting Our Babies to College 101, visit