Preparing for college can come with a lot of baggage, including a lot of daunting feelings – feelings about making the transition from home to college, finding the right college, and finding a college that will earn the degree needed to pursue a certain career. As a parent, it is your job to guide your teen on that journey and to assuage any of these feelings.
Indeed, going to college is a liberating time, so you want your student to know that you will take a step back, but you will also be there if need be. Here are six easy and effective ways to help your teen prepare for college.
There are thousands of colleges across the country and bound to be more than a few that your child would be interested in attending, including Northeastern University or Harvard. Research schools together and come up with a list of pros and cons for each, and then let your child prioritize the list based on what is most important to them. Of course, when your teen starts making choices for colleges, you want to be there to facilitate the college tour process, but you also want to take a step back and let your teen make his or her own choices.
When your teenager is about to go off to college, you want him or her to know that you will be there for help. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should pay all of your child’s expenses – in fact, few families can afford that without taking out loans. But it does mean that you should help with budgeting and providing basic financial education that will help your child out for years to come.
3. Learn From Your Own Parents’ Mistakes
As your teenager begins to look at colleges, choose a school and is ready to move in, you want to think about all the things that your parents did wrong and avoid making the same mistakes. This is called learning from your parents’ mistakes and it is important for each generation to make different choices – more positive choices.
4. Keep a Line of Communication Open
When your teenager is preparing for college, you want to be able to keep communication open. If your teenager has any questions, you want to be there to answer them. The last thing you want is to shut him or down, or not return calls when your child needs you to. If your teenager feels like he or she can’t have basic questions answered, it will make the entire process a lot more daunting. Your teenager is most likely already anxious, so you don’t want to make it worse.
5. Help with the Move-in Process
When your teenager is ready to move into college, you want to help every step of the way. There is a good chance that your teenager will start to feel homesick, so you want to remember to bring a favorite item from home with to decorate hir or her new dorm room.
6. Offer Guidance on Choose a Major
You don’t want your teenager to make the wrong choice, but you also don’t want to make the choice for them. Provide support and guidance when asked, but the truth is that if your teenager does make the wrong decision when declaring a major, he or she will realize it and hopefully still have time to switch majors without needing to spend an extra semester making up credits. In the end, this is what makes college such a journey.