Preparing for College – the Key Players

A student’s preparation for college involves four players – teachers, counselors, parents and the student himself. Here are the rules that everyone should be playing.

Senior year. Filled with lots of final things – the last football game, the last prom, that last final exam. In my opinion, trustmypaper is best place where you can go to get the better grades. Just a short summer and then it’s off to college. A lot of that summer is spent accumulating the “things” that will be needed – bedding, storage totes, clothes, new computer and other gadgets, etc. In the midst of all of this preparation, however, there should have been other experiences that have prepared young people for this major change in their lives – intellectual, emotional, and social preparation that should have been occurring long before that last summer at home. There are four important players in this preparation – parents, teachers, counselors, and the student. Here are the responsibilities of each.

Teachers

Your jobs are in the areas of academic preparation. High school is a protected environment in which students have close relationships with their teachers, and their academic work is closely monitored. Parents are notified when a kid is falling behind; progress reports, provided mid-term, let the student and parent know what is going on. Individual help is available during class time. All of this changes once those feet hit the first college classroom door. To prepare students for these changes, the following should occur during their senior year:

  • Provide more long-term assignments for them. When you assign them, help your students develop timeline calendars for completion of each part of the assignment. At this point, step out of the picture. Don’t hover; never check on them; stop nurture them through.
  • Independence of learning will be a critical skill. When you assign reading tasks, expect that they will be completed outside of class. When class discussions occur, ask higher level thinking questions, not just recall and comprehension.
  • Lecture more. No, they will not love it, but they need to learn to listen to lectures and take notes. Teach them to take notes; teach them how to go through their class notes and consolidate them, on devices if possible.
  • Assign more essays. They will appreciate the practice once they get to college.
  • These experiences should be given to students in every academic class they have right now – they will have to complete these tasks in every college course.

Counselors

Your tasks involve the social and emotional adjustments that students will have to make. And some of them are huge. There should be workshops and meetings for all college-bound kids where they are introduced to the types of situations they will face. There is quite a long list of the types of preparation counselors can and should provide.

  • Diversity Training: Many high school students live in a sheltered high school environment with little to no exposure to the great diversity of socio-economic demographics on a college campus. All students come to college with a set of social norms, and these differ widely among social, economic, racial, ethnic, and religious groups. Kids must be given the communication and interpersonal skills to broaden their perspectives, develop tolerance, and to find value in all races and cultures.
  • Disadvantaged Students: Students from disadvantaged homes and neighborhoods will face greater adjustments than those from middle-class and above demographics. They may need additional training to accumulate what has come to be known as “social capital.”
  • Time Management and Organizational Skills: Students who struggle academically are usually lacking in these skills. They need to know how to prioritize their responsibilities and engage in both short- and long-term planning.
  • Social Situations/Risk-Taking: Drugs, alcohol, casual sex and sexual assault are far more common on college campuses than kids are often led to believe. There need to be workshops in which role-playing of all types of situations occurs. Kids need a box full of “tools” for these situations.
  • Provide lists and explanation of the resources that are available to them once they are into the rigors of college – academic labs for help, physical and mental health services, counselors (guidance and career planning), and even those online resources that they may need – study groups writing services, such as Trust My Paper, apps that can help with everything from budgeting to time management.
  • Conflict Resolution: It’s inevitable. Students who live together in a small dorm room or even in an apartment, are going to have disagreements – and disagreements can escalate if not handled early on. A few good workshops with role plays will go a long way. College students need skills to resolve their conflicts through peaceful means.

Parents

Your kiddo – the one you nurtured through infancy, toddlers, elementary and pre-teen years, through rebellions of adolescence, and through all sorts of joys and sorrow – is leaving. It is, as most parents claim, a bittersweet moment. A part of you wants to hover and protect them forever; the other part of you is happy that they are on their way, taking one more step toward adulthood and independence. You have much to do in preparing them, though. Here are your tasks:

  • Personal Finance Management: Whether you are providing the cost of college or your student is on loans and grants, learning to budget money on a weekly and monthly basis is critical. You may have started a number of years ago, but now it’s time to get serious. Fortunately, you don’t have to “teach” this on your own. There a number of great apps out there that are designed with college kids in mind. Get your student to download one that is a good fit, and let him/her practice all summer. Armed with experience, budgeting will go much easier once they are doing it on their own. (and you will get fewer panic calls asking for money).
  • Independent Living: How ready is your child to assume the responsibilities of taking care of all of his/her living needs – laundry, food shopping, cleaning. Guys tend to not want pink underwear because they washed a red shirt in with the whites; ramen noodles are a good staple at the end of the month when money is tight, but does you student know how to shop the sales and look for the bargains? It may be time for some real live practice.
  • Cleaning: If your student has not had lots of experience cleaning the bathroom, the kitchen, not to mention his/her own room, it’s time for some lessons. And these lessons are not just for them – it’s so that they can be good and considerate roommates too.
  • Your Values: You’ve spent 18 years instilling your child with values and principles by which you live and want him/her to live. This part of your job is really finished. It is not a time for lectures. While your student may veer off course, make mistakes, big and small, you cannot be around to rescue anymore. Part of adulthood is making those mistakes, living with the results, and fixing what can be fixed. It’s hard, but you have to back off.

Students

It’s “show time” now. And if you are nervous, great. You should be. You will have a busy summer ahead of you. Here are the things that will really help you be ready.

  • Take on full responsibility for every aspect of your daily life.
  • Become a reader – Take a look at some best sellers, pick a few, and have at it. Getting into the habit of reading a lot will let you maintain that habit better when you have those reading assignments for coursework.
  • Get your shopping done; get your clothing and gear organized; make contact with your roommate, etc.
  • Don’t Skip Orientation: While other adults in your life have done what they can to prepare you, each campus is unique, and you bear responsibility for this final piece of preparation. Orientation is far more than just getting a tour of the campus so you don’t get lost. You will begin to develop social connections; to learn what resources exist and where/how to locate and use them; also you will get more comfortable being a member of the campus community; and you will learn what opportunities there are for clubs, sports, and other activities.

The Boy Scout Motto

If you were a boy or girl scout in your young years, you probably remember the boy scout motto – “Be Prepared.” Being prepared for college life is far more than just getting the student and the gear physically there. It means making certain that the new freshman has the skills and the tools that will get them started well. There will be challenges and really rough times – make no mistake about it. But when students meet them head on all by themselves. confidence and a “can-do” attitude result.