With college costs rising every year and competition for scholarship money increasing, it would be a relief to look into a crystal ball and see your student’s college future. That way you’d know whether to make the investment.
But even without seer skills, there are things parents can do to increase the likelihood their teenager will be successful in college. If parents really want their students to successfully maneuver all the temptations of parties, late nights and skipping classes while culling a college education and the beginning of a career, they need to start preparing their teenagers long before the end of high school.
Academics, of course, are crucial.
But parents need to realize that, if a student can’t get up in time to make it to a class where she is one of 300, to listen to a lecture on a subject she doesn’t like but is required to take, where nobody will check to see why she isn’t there – well, that takes more than academic skills. It takes self-discipline, motivation, dedication and an understanding of the value and cost of that college education.
Likewise, if the student cannot handle conflict, cannot manage her time and priorities, cannot self-advocate, cannot manage her money, does not know when she needs help or how to get it, then – despite a stellar grade-point average – that teenager will leave home ill-equipped for the challenges of college life.
Parents have been teaching most of these life skills since their kids were toddlers, but many need a new course of action once their kids hit adolescence, a time when teen logic, impulses and choices leave parents screaming for help.
Give teenagers graduated responsibilities with real, but reasonable consequences. Many will stumble and helpfully learn; but when they do make progress, they should be rewarded with more responsibility.
Have your teenager make her own appointments to talk with a teacher of a missed assignment. Let her make the orthodontist appointment. Guide her to figure out time and calendar and commitments – you won’t be there to help in college.
College is a time of change, freedom and new and challenging situations. Students who arrive capable of solving conflicts with a roommate, who know how to safely handle themselves at a party and who can determine just how much time they need to study for that midterm are more likely to succeed in their academics.
Look for opportunities to give your students a chance to mature, to be responsible, to learn from failures and consequences and to accept challenges. By doing so, you are guiding them toward college success.
P. Carol Jones is the author of “Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able.” Ferah Aziz is a college coach with launchphase2. Visit www.launchphase2 to learn more about coaching for college bound students.