Preparing your child for college life can start from a young age. Considering it’s not just about learning to handle the increase in freedom and regularly tidying up after themselves but instead learning to show resilience and being prepared for hardships. By ensuring your child is emotionally healthy and able to handle an increased level of stress and responsibility, you’ll benefit them greatly when they move on to further education.
The differences between high school and college can be stark; a much larger and varied student population, increased workload and responsibility and a greater need to be a considerate roommate. It’s not difficult to see why so many freshmen complain about feeling overwhelmed when it’s a life they are unprepared for, leading to increased drop-outs. Luckily, there are a few ways parents can help from a young age;
Let Them Fail
While it may sound detrimental to let your children fail, setting your child up for constant success will only making it harder on them when they do fall-down which can lead to strain on their mental health and motivation. By allowing children to fail from a younger age, they will be better prepared for college learning and will quickly learn their own strengths and weaknesses.
This is particularly important for children that do well in high school with little effort, they should be encouraged to take pre-college courses or seek intermediate summer learning, so they are challenged and have opportunities to fail.
Encourage Independent Learning
While sometimes it’s tempting to answer all the questions our children ask or research the information for them when they do, parents should instead encourage independent learning in their children. Give younger (reading age) children the resources to seek their own answers or direct them to avenues of learning – for example, the library or internet – if they have a subject they are intrigued in.
Not only will this offer a positive method of learning when your children go into higher education, they will feel more confident in their ability to learn. It also teaches them the value of effort, the more effort they put into researching a specific subject, the more information they are rewarded with.
Dealing with Stress
A poor coping ability is something that is all too often seen in young adults today which has sadly led to increased anxiety around work and learning. In some cases, this has even caused young adults to turn to other vices to escape, such as drink or drugs.
By setting up your children to be able to handle higher levels of stress in a calm and effective manner, you’ll be doing a huge benefit to their mental health and will help them long into adulthood. Techniques could include removing yourself from stressful situations, practising calming breathing exercises and making them aware of the overall picture. Often, we can get too focused on the individual aspect and fail to see the bigger picture, for instance, receiving a B on a mid-term when it’s only 5% of the overall grade.
While it is child nature to see themselves at the centre of the world, teaching your child to be self-aware from an early age is important, not just for college but life in general. Teaching them gratitude for when things go well and the good they have in their life will help them feel less stress and give them the coping skills to shrug off the negatives they experience.
One of the biggest areas which catch new college students out is correct budgeting, particularly if they are using student loans. Without correct budgeting, students can go through their available money quickly. Pocket money is a good way to teach children about budgeting as they learn early that they can either spend what they have or save to get something better.
Your child deserves the best start to their educational future so spend the time to teach them the important aspects of college life and taking care of themselves. When it comes to applying to a prestigious university, the process can be stressful to both the applicant and their parents, so make a point to celebrate the small victories.
By preparing your child to show resilience in the face of adversity, they stand to become an emotionally healthy adult with positive coping skills and a strong personality.