College Kid Prep Course of Parents

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So the little bundle of joy is finally getting ready to leave the nest. As a parent it is hard to imagine how fast the time flew by. All of your parenting hard work is now being put to the test. Will they make it? Are they making the right choice? Where do they want to go to college? If you want to help your children be successful in college, help them feel like it is their choice.

Don’t pressure them to go somewhere they don’t want to go: It will only end up creating resentment in your relationship. Rather give them the confidence that they can make the right decision for themselves. Help them with the process by being available to help with applications, answer questions, campus touring arrangements, and encourage them they will make a good choice. I often give teens a spreadsheet (included) to help them put all of the options down in front of them and look at what is the best choice for them. After all, teaching a teen to be confident and stand behind a major life choice sets them up to transition into adulthood.

No Major…No Biggie: How many of you actually ended up majoring in what you started out studying or better yet are even working in the same field? So many teens are unsure of what they want to choose as a career path that they simply avoid college all together. If your child is undecided, encourage your child to pick a school that has plenty of options to choose from as far as majors. This gives them an opportunity to wait and decide on a career path (declare a major) after taking courses in areas they are interested in. Many of the larger State Universities have a wide variety of study areas.

They want to go where their friends are going: Many parents are frustrated because their child is choosing a college based where there friends are going or even a boyfriend or girlfriend. Some parents go as far as to forbid specific schools because they don’t want Bill going to school with Sarah. If the goal is for them to transition into adulthood and leave the nest they have to make the choices they feel are best for them. It’s hard for teens to leave behind their peers. Although as parents we know it’s likely they will make new friends quickly once they are campus, some teens who are shy or who were picked on in school struggle with this. They do not understand the different dynamic in college. Those cliques they were used to in high school are non-existent and the popularity contest is over. If they remain friends with the same peers or even in the same romantic relationship throughout college as they mature and grow up, that means they had a pretty strong bond. Besides isn’t the goal a college degree? By discouraging them from going where they are comfortable you are discouraging college by communicating to your child that you don’t think they can make a good choice about college, so you want to make it for them.

Financially our child can only afford to go certain places: College is expensive. Many parents cannot afford to pay for the entire degree. Help them with financial aid applications, scholarships, and help them see the difference in prices in colleges. Teach your child important lessons about money, finances, budget, and how to live off of what they get each semester and make it last. It is better to do this before they leave than to get a phone call mid October with your child crying because they blew through an entire semester’s worth of money already.