Is senior year too late to prepare your teen for college? The short answer is no.
But if you want your child to be ready, here are three practical ways you can assist them in the often-challenging leap to college:
1. Make them set the alarm.
No, really. Let them be responsible for waking themselves up. Success in college is closely tied to regular class attendance, and the excuse typically offered by students to professors is “I overslept”. In fact, these words corrode credibility. Sleep regulation is critical to overall health and well-being and is an excellent indicator of a student’s dedication to their academic career AND future.
And, hey, it’s one less thing!
2. Make them read a book.
I know what you’re thinking: writing professor bias. The truth is, young adults are often not ready for the critical, intensive reading assignments that pervade nearly every college course. Professors aren’t required to cover textbook material in class, and some make no mention of outside reading assignments that will appear on quizzes and tests (which likely comprise significant parts of final grades).
My advice? Let them self-select a book and remember what it means to read for internal vs. external rewards. Also, ask them questions during and/or after their reading to (1) encourage recall in your teen and (2) to create a supportive level of accountability – someone cares enough to ask about how they are spending their time.
*I would recommend a physical copy of a book. The students who burn out most quickly in my courses and stop reading the textbook altogether are those learners who purchase e-versions. Social media will tempt – and win – every time.
3. Make them volunteer.
Will volunteering at the local animal shelter for two hours change your teen’s life? Will it make them a CEO one day? Maybe, but that’s not my point.
Students need to understand that there is a world that exists outside of them. They should encounter poverty in a tangible way. They should experience the discomfort of giving. They should be given numerous chances to apply knowledge and new information to circumstances that they can’t directly control. And the interpersonal skills they forge will prepare them for any field that awaits them.
Your teen should be allowed to choose his/her volunteer opportunity (within reason, of course), as personal choice is essential in young people completing a project and reflecting on it in a meaningful, positive way.
*I would recommend a weekly or bi-weekly one hour per week commitment. Much like the rest of us, teenagers want to see the long-term fruit of their labor vs. a feel-good quick-hit kind of service.
When your first child leaves for college, you will feel helpless. But in teaching your high school senior to take the reigns and make sound decisions, you are equipping them with not just the tools for college but life.
And, I promise, one day you will see how these steps made the letting go a little easier.
One Year Ago: To Redshirt, or Not to Redshirt