College - Helping Your Child Prepare
Education is something that continues from the day we are born
until the day we die. In some cases, it's formal, with definite
starting and finishing times and a specific course of study. In
the United States, most people attend elementary, middle and
The schools have the responsibility of teaching us specific
subjects like language, math, science, etc. In addition, though,
our schools teach us social skills and the other life skills we
need. In school, we learn how to schedule our time and how to
After high school, some children go on to university, college,
community college, or a technical school. Oftentimes, that's our
children's first experience with true independence, which is a
completely different kind of education. And, in addition to the
formal subjects, schools of higher education also offer learning
in social skills and other life skills.
The freshman year offers the potential for pitfalls, and
students show their ability or lack of ability to handle
Food, money, recreation and study habits are the four most
common problem areas in the freshman year. You can help your
child succeed by talking with them about this ahead of time and
helping them set specific goals in each of these areas.
Food: With the multiple choices in the school cafeteria, and no
one monitoring their intake, children may choose based on taste
rather than nutrition. The infamous 'freshman fifteen' weight
gain comes from this.
Money: Unprepared students are likely to run into disastrous
problems when they are suddenly expected to make payments for
books, housing and tuition.
Recreation: Without supervision and a curfew, freshmen can get
caught up in the excitement of seemingly unlimited time to play.
Sometimes their dorm mates are of legal drinking age, leading to
the temptation to party all the time when that seems to be the
only opportunity for fun and socializing.
Study habits: Regular studying rather than last minute cramming
is essential. Being a full time student is equivalent to having
a full time job, and freshmen are often surprised by how much
time they need to study in addition to the time spent in class.
You can help your college-bound child prepare for school by
talking with her about these potential problem areas, and
helping her set realistic goals. During the senior year in high
school, you can help your teenager prepare for college by giving
her the chance to practice more independence while still living
You can give your teenager the opportunity to schedule his own
time, to choose his own food, to budget his money and time,
within some limits. It's important to be balanced, giving him
some freedom yet not too much.
The danger for teenagers who have had no choices at home is that
they tend to go out of control when they first get to college
and have complete freedom. Setting goals and achieving them,
making wise decisions, and learning self- discipline are all
habits that are learned over time, not overnight.
Of course, some students are better off taking some time between
high school and college, or attending a community college and
continuing to live at home. This gives your teenager the
opportunity to learn important life skills before going on to
formal education. As a parent, you can help your child to
evaluate and decide the best route. If your student needs more
time to develop maturity and life skills, you are wise to give
them the time rather than pushing them before they are ready.
Whether your teenager goes directly from high school to college
or takes a break, you can help them make choices and develop
skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.