In less than 2 months, my 2nd daughter is going to graduate from high school. This year has been a year full of college applications, ACT tests, college visits and more! I’d be lying if I told you this was a stress-free time. It doesn’t mater if your senior is ready to go to college, it’s still going to be a big adjustment…for you and for them! It’s a time of great change…with a lot of laughter and quite a few tears as well. It can be stressful for both parents and their children. The more prepared they are when they graduate from high school, the better their chances are of succeeding as they navigate college and work.
As a parent, you want to give your child the best information and support you can. While every child is different, there are some things that every college-bound senior should know.
Remember the Importance of More Than “Book-Learning”
College is about new experiences and not all of them take place in the classroom. In order to help your high school senior be as prepared for college as possible, do all you can to ensure they’re ready for life inside and outside of the classroom.
1. Remind them that their relationships will change, no matter who they’re with.
They won’t want to hear this and they probably won’t believe you, but it’s important to tell them anyway. College is stressful enough without them wondering why their friendships and relationships seem different.
2. Repeat that they have your support – no matter what direction life takes.
When your child graduates from high school, they’ll want to stretch their wings and try making decisions on their own. Some of these will be good decisions. Some of them will be not-so-good decisions! Let them know that your love for them does not depend on their good choices.
3. Equip them with knowledge they need about money, alcohol, drugs, sex, and other serious matters.
4. Provide only an agreed-upon sum of money, and only when necessary.
5. Discuss the future with real world examples, so they’re focused on success.
There is so much to a college experience today, and it’ll be different for each person. Some of that is due to differences in personality, but some of it also depends on how far away from home the college is. If a student is living at home, his college experience will be far different than a student who is hundreds or even thousands of miles away from his parents.
The influence you have over your child throughout the senior year in high school will change when they go off to college. Understand that even the best parenting doesn’t always save a child from challenges. You can prepare your child for college, but then it’s up to them.
The Value of Education in Today’s World
Education is becoming more and more valuable with each passing year, but remember that education and college are not synonymous. Technology is changing the way things are done. People who have a strong work ethic and who make education (classes, personal development, etc) a priority are generally the ones who see the most success. It can be hard to get a high school senior to take the future seriously, but imparting good information is vital.
Your child’s first few years out of high school will most likely be a time of trial and error. Some people are ready for college right out of high school, and some aren’t. If your child isn’t ready and doesn’t perform well or decides to work for a few years to figure out what they want to do, don’t despair. They can always attend college at a later date and do just fine.
In short, don’t assume that your child will perform exactly the way you expect; all you can do is give the best information and support you have to offer. Keep in mind that your young adult is an individual and will have to find his or her own way. The life experienced in college and beyond is up to them!