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7 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Kids for College

December 3, 2021

by mikkie mills, guest contributor

Sending kids off to college can be one of the most exciting and worrying experiences for many parents. Your children are stepping out on their own for the first time, and this is a big step for both of you. While it can be an intimidating next chapter, you can feel assured that you have given them the information and tools they need to be successful with these seven ways to help prepare them.

Talk About Finances

Today’s college expenses can be rather daunting; however, they can prove to be even more perilous for those who aren’t prepared. If you want your child to be prepped and ready for college, it is important to educate them on personal finances. Everything from the predatory practices of some financial companies to budgeting and student loans, all vitally important conversations to have before they head off for college (and out in the world, in general). Their daily behaviors can significantly impact their financial futures and being proactive can go a long way.

Explain Expectations

With this likely being the first time that your "little one" is fully stepping out from the nest, it can create a lot of grey areas and room for confusion. Whether you are discussing finances, grades, or general communication, it is important to establish expectations and explain those ahead of time. Don’t wait until your child has left the nest and assume that you are all on the same page. Instead, spend time outlining expectations so that they are clear from the start.

Discuss Scheduling Hacks

With structured school hours and parental supervision, many students approaching college have little autonomy when it comes to scheduling. College often comes with newfound freedom, however, this is a common pitfall for many college students. If you want your child to be successful, help them learn scheduling hacks. Everything from how much time they should be scheduling, to time for extracurriculars, are scheduling strategies that can help them start on the right foot.

Instill Useful Study Strategies

Another layer of the newfound freedom is learning to study as an adult. Academic independence can feel exhilarating until the first round of grades is released. College classes often spend far less time in the classroom and require far more outside-of-class time studying and preparing. To help your child be successful in college, help them develop study strategies that can set them up for success. Encourage them to utilize the resources available at their school (tutoring, labs, etc.). 

Teach Them How to Ask for Help

Because this is an entirely new environment, you need to proactively help them develop key skills. One of those skills is asking for help. They need to know the importance of asking for help and how to do it. While you can be there to support them, colleges require that students be active participants in their journeys, and your child needs to learn how to advocate for what they need. This includes with their professors, their mental health, and with their peers. 

Household Activities and Basic Needs

Before your child sets off to college, make sure that they understand what essential skills, household chores and basic needs they need to know. Household chores can be so much more than a way to teach your kids responsibility, but they can also be useful ways to teach them important life skills that will be useful in every facet of life. Everything from how to cook a meal to how to do laundry will be essential skills that will help them at college and beyond.

Have the Difficult Discussions

While most parents will engage in some difficult discussions with their children, it is important to have those conversations again before they leave. Everything from peer pressure to alcohol and other drug consumption to consent and safe sex will be essential topics that you need to cover. While this may make you and your children indescribably uncomfortable, it is better that you discuss this than have them discover this without any context on their own. Even if it is hard, it is worth discussing.

When it comes to college, these are brand-new experiences for both you and your child. While it can be exhilarating, it can also be scary. These seven strategies can assure you that you have set your child up for success in the best way that you know how.

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