Top Tips for Preparing Your Kids for College

Loretta Jane

For many kids, college is part of the long-term plan. It’s the bridge between childhood dependence and adult independence. Earning a bachelor’s degree at an institute of higher learning provides the tools and knowledge for students to start careers in their preferred industries. This is a brand new phase of life that can have a dramatic impact on your child’s future. Whether they’re going away for college or living at home, it’s important to prepare your child for higher learning if an undergraduate degree is necessary for their goals. Here are some things to know about equipping your child for success in college.

Choosing a Major

The bottom line is that the main goal of attending a university is to earn a degree (or two), often a basic requirement for working in many industries. Many degree programs give students some leeway when it comes to taking the time to choose a major; however, some students need more than a year or two to make a firm decision on what to study. Unfortunately, college isn’t cheap and nobody wants to waste time and money while trying to figure it out. Considering allowing your child to take a gap year to figure out what to do. Look for opportunities to provide real exposure to their preferred field of work. You’d hate for them to spend four years as a pre-med or nursing student only to find that they don’t like working in hospitals or clinics. A low-level position or part time job can help a student better figure out what they want or don’t want to do.

Understanding Money

You and your college-bound kids need to have an understanding about money. First of all, you should take advantage of plans to save money for school like private family banking as well as applying for scholarships and grants. There needs to be serious conversations about spending money for college as well as how to manage money while in school. It’s easy for students to rack up debt by signing up for credit cards without understanding how to use them responsibly. If your child wins a scholarship and grant money for school, they may get a check directly from the awarding organization. They may also be tempted to spend the money instead of applying the funds directly to tuition and other fees.

Being Responsible

The college years are where many students learn to be responsible and develop a work ethic. You’re not around to make sure that your child completes their assignments or even wakes up to go to class. They’ll have to learn how to make wise choices and do the right thing, even when you’re not around. Part time jobs and other household responsibilities do help instill a sense of duty in a child that will serve them well into adulthood. Seek ways to encourage your children to handle their business before they go away to school. Remind them that they’ll enjoy their leisure time more when they’ve taken care of business.

Making New Connections

The undergraduate years provide a wonderful opportunity for students to meet new people and form new friendships. From dorm roommates to study buddies to faculty and staff, there will be exposure to people from different walks of life with different viewpoints. Your student will come across people of different races, ethnicities, nationalities, faith practices and socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s great to have a set of values and convictions, but be open to new perspectives and insights. Encourage your kids to take full advantage of the opportunity to try new things and engage in activities that help increase their knowledge and understanding.

The college years can be a fun time for your children. The transition from childhood to adulthood is an important rite of passage for millions of people. It is important and necessary to do what you can to equip your child for success with advance preparation. This is not limited to academic coursework. It extends to personal responsibility, money management and exposure to new experiences as well.