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10 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for College Life

March 31, 2010 By: Julie Manhan Category: Campus Life

So much time is spent focusing on being academically prepared for college that sometimes I think we forget that a student needs additional, often non-academic skills in order to make a successful transition to college.  This is an area where your guidance can help smooth the way for your student.


 Photo by Wooley Wonderworks

Here are a few things you can do to help your student be better prepared for college:

  1. Keep them focused on their school work.  Some seniors begin paying less attention to their high school classes once they start getting accepted to colleges.  Keep in mind that the earlier they do this, the more difficult their transition will likely be to doing college-level work.
  2. Encourage them to be accountable.  Students who accept responsibility for their actions and decisions tend to be more successful in their dealings with others and are more welcome study partners.
  3. Help them keep their priorities straight.  College students are faced with many choices.  Helping your student to keep academics at the top of the list now, may prevent serious academic problems later.
  4. Let them do the packing for college.  This is a great opportunity for them to begin thinking about what they will need to have for classes, as well as for residence life.  If there are things that need to be purchased, let them make the list.  You can always make suggestions for things they may have forgotten while you’re shopping together.
  5. Teach them the skills of daily living.  Make sure they know how to do laundry and how to cook a few basic dishes that are simple, nutritious, and can be taken to a potluck if needed.
  6. Have them take a CPR/First Aid class.  These are skills everyone should have.  It may also ease your mind a bit just knowing that your student knows what to do in an emergency.
  7. Enroll your daughter in a self-defense class.  Most college students never need to use these skills, but a woman who knows how to defend herself carries herself differently and is less likely to become a target.
  8. Make sure they know how to use public transportation.  Unless your student is taking their own car,  they will have to know how to use alternate transportation to get around.  If they have never used public transportation, help them learn how to read a bus and/or subway schedule.
  9. Discuss what to do when you’re homesick.  Practically no student escapes being homesick at some point.  It’s one of the most common reasons why students drop out of college.  Talking about this before it happens and giving your student some suggestions about how to deal with it can make all the difference.  You can get a few helpful hints here.
  10.  Set the ground rules.  Talk to your student about your financial and academic expectations of them once they are in college.  Students tend to rise to the occasion if they know what is expected.  Putting the ground rules in place before they even leave for college is a good way to get them used to prioritizing and  living within a budget.

The above are only meant as a starting point.  Since every student is unique, they will need your help in different areas.  You know your student’s strengths and weaknesses.  If you listen attentively, most students will also give you an insight into what concerns them about college.  Helping them learn how to deal with those fears can go a long way toward giving them the skills they will need to cope with new situations and challenges thoughout their lives.