As a parent, you know that your child’s best chance for a bright future lies in getting a good college education. However, you may wonder when you should talk to your child about college. The answer is surprisingly simple. Begin talking to your child about college today. Whether your child is a toddler or a recent graduate of a four-year college, you should begin reinforcing the importance of continued education immediately.
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Benefits of Higher Education
It’s no secret that a college education is a key that can open up the opportunity for a better life. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education has called education “the best tool for creating wealth and happiness.” Yet many people don’t go to college. One way to increase the odds that your children will get more education is to encourage them to picture themselves as successful college students.
Mention College Often
If your children are young, find opportunities to use the phrase “when you are in college.” Encourage small children to play at being teachers, doctors, archeologists, and scientists in addition to firefighters and rock stars. Older children can understand that careers requiring more education typically offer more benefits, higher pay, and more comfortable working conditions. Even adult children can benefit from discussions of higher education. For example, it would not be inappropriate to suggest earning a health informatics master’s degree to a grown child who is dissatisfied with a current career.
If you don’t have a degree yourself, you may feel awkward discussing college with your child. The truth is that no one’s opinion holds more weight with your children than yours does. You can share the difficulties that you have faced without a degree. If you have any regrets about not getting more education, don’t hesitate to share them with your children.
Discuss Solutions to Obstacles
Talk about common reasons for not going to college and explain that solutions exist. For example, college expenses can be met through grants, loans, scholarships, and other aid. Even low grades in high school or poor math or writing skills don’t rule out college. Community colleges typically accept all applicants and provide the opportunity to transfer to more exclusive schools later. Additionally, the wide variety of degrees available means that anyone can find a program that comfortably matches their skills.
You know that your child’s future success, happiness, and even health can be enhanced by a college education. Don’t wait until your son or daughter is a senior in high school to begin talking about higher education, but don’t consider graduation to be a cutting-off point for discussions about college, either. Whatever your child’s age, now is the best time to talk about college.