Tips for Parents

Hunting for College Prep Advice? Simple ways to prepare a student for college

It’s that time of year when recent high school graduates are anxiously awaiting their first semester of college but for many, the transition from high school life to college life will be harder than it needs to be. It’s estimated that as many as 60 percent of this year’s incoming freshman will fail to graduate college. Preparing for a smooth transition from home life to dorm life can significantly increase the student’s chances of success.

In contrast to high school teachers, college professors expect students to take accountability for their own education. There is no spoon feeding of information in college and many freshmen fall behind because they are waiting for direction rather than following their syllabus.

Community or Online Summer Courses – For some, easing into the college experience will better prepare them for the change in teaching style. This can be accomplished by taking one or two of the core freshman classes at a community college over the summer or by signing up for free online classes such as the Massive Open Online Courses at such sites as Coursera. This will also allow parents to observe the study habits of their student and correct any problems before he or she goes off.

Summer Jobs – Many of America’s college students work a minimum of 20 hours per week and carry a full college course load. For students who have never had a job, the stress can be overwhelming. For many, the advantages of getting their feet wet with a summer job are priceless. By resisting the urge to take it easy during their last summer of freedom, students learn time management, improve their work ethic, and gain a better understanding of money matters and budgeting.

A Healthy Diet – College freshman experience anxiety and emotional stress and these issues can be magnified by poor dietary choices. Students must learn to properly feed themselves before leaving home. For most students living on campus, a meal plan is included in their expenses but no one is going to tell them when or what to eat and some students find themselves skipping meals or relying on fast food because they haven’t set aside time for healthy meals. The months before school starts are a great time to teach students how to shop for healthy staples that can be kept in a dorm refrigerator and cooked in a microwave for those days when sitting down in the cafeteria isn’t feasible.

Check In Finally, parents need to understand that their “children” are now considered adults and no one is going to inform them when problems arise – even if they are footing the bill. Young adults will be screaming for independence, but for most, complete autonomy can quickly lead to disaster. Parents need to check up and check in frequently during the first semester. When possible, students can go home on weekends so parents can observe any physical or emotional changes that might impact their health or grades. Most colleges today provide an online portal for students to track their assignments, review their schedule, track their financial aid, and see their grades. Parents are not given access to these accounts by the school, but they can certainly request their college students to provide them with access so they aren’t surprised when those final grades come in and they aren’t up to par. 

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