Jill Haley: How can I help my child be ready for college?
As an independent college counselor, I spend hours each semester with students and their families helping them choose the right college and helping them with applications. Getting admitted to a college is a sign of hard work and dedication, but being admitted doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has acquired the skills to be a successful student. In fact, only 54 percent of students graduate college in six years.
A recent New York Times article by Mark McConville made me think about admissions in a new way. Is this student even ready for college? McConville, a psychologist, writes about ways that parents can help their kids become more independent before they leave for college.
At the top of his list is personal responsibility. It may be surprising to many of you, but I have students who have never done their own laundry or shopping. These are skills they will need to have in college. Making it to school on time by setting their own alarm, and keeping a calendar is essential. McConville believes that parents of high school students should encourage them to make their own medical and dental appointments while still in high school.
College freshmen will also need to know how to manage a bank account, pay credit card bills, and find the best deals on text books. If they receive financial aid, it is vital that they have the communication skills to interact with people at the financial aid office. Colleges often wont deal with parents relating to college matters, citing confidentiality laws once a student reaches eighteen.
Letting your child take on more adult responsibilities is hard for many parents who work hard to make sure everything is “just right” for their children. But taking a step back and encouraging more personable responsibility could be the best thing you can do to ensure that your child has the skills and maturity to be a successful college student.
We all know that a certain amount of home sickness is normal for a student as they enter into a new environment, but there are ways to prepare them before they go. Visiting the college beforehand is a must, but a second trip before move-in can help a student feel more familiar with his or her new surroundings. Communicating with their new roommate(s) before college starts often kickstarts the relationship, easing the transition of living with new people.
Many Nevada County students have never spent more than a few days away from home, or their parents, when they graduate high school. Families may want to find ways to encourage this separation, by enrolling in summer camps or trips to visit relatives. Also, research shows that having a family member or family friend nearby can help if loneliness sets in.
There are options for students who are not ready or mature enough to attend college in another city by the time they graduate. Taking a Gap Year or enrolling in community college can be an excellent option allowing extra time at home to mature.
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