A Parent’s Guide to Prepping Kids for College

Prepping your children for the college experience can feel like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be! What you do to help them prep for some of the best years of their life will help them develop life long habits. From understanding how to handle study and social pressures to finding valuable independence, it’s your time to show them what to expect and how to navigate the unexpected.

Prepping with Sustainable Study Habits

Stress is a learning lesson. Study stress and schooling seem to go hand and hand. Stress is an inevitable situation, but we don’t always have to see that stress as a complete negative. When study stress arises, it’s a great chance to help our children meet that stress head-on with positivity. Study burnout can happen to children of any age, but high schoolers are particularly susceptible. Whether a child is working with a busy schedule or is simply inclined to procrastinate, the pressures of schooling can get the better of students and parents alike. 

Watch how your children handle that burnout, and make sure that they’re getting the support they need to move past it. Encourage your child to recognize when they’ve heat their boiling point. Breaks from studying and nonschool related creative outlets are both important to the overall health of your child. If burnout is happening often, it’s a good time to take a look at what might be happening under the surface. It might be time to relearn healthy coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, or boredom. 

It’s okay to take breaks. Even in college. Make sure your child understands that keeping to a schedule that works for them but never impedes on their mental or emotional state will be healthier for their future and their studies in the long run,

Know when you’re helping and when you’re hurting. As parents, it’s hard to say no to our kids when they ask for help with a paper or project. However, it’s good to examine each situation individually. Of course, lending a hand with studies and homework is sometimes necessary, but learn when to say no. Often we jump into helper mode without looking at the situation as a whole. Ask yourself, is this an opportunity for my child to work their struggles on their own? Is this a chance for them to problem solve? Do they really need my help, or are they looking for an easier solution to their problem?

It’s More than Academics

Success doesn’t only hinge on grades. As much as every parent wants to see their child perform well in school, prepping for college isn’t only about SAT scores and a lengthy list of extracurriculars. Of course, a great GPA and teacher recommendations look fantastic on a college application, but what happens after your kid gets accepted? So much of the college experience happens outside of courses and classrooms. Remember that a child going into college has to navigate their studies and their changing social life. It’s a lot to take on for any young person. Make sure that you’re doing what you can to keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your child after they’ve headed off to college. Be a sounding board when they need it. Be there to help with the mental and emotional stress that can easily overflow in a college situation. Keep an eye out for behaviors that are mentally or emotionally unhealthy. Be ready to step in when it’s clear your child can’t help themselves.

Safety First and Foremost

Having your kids away from home brings out a lot of anxiety as parents. Of course, we can’t watch their every move when they’re outside of our homes, nor should we. But before they leave the nest, it’s important to teach our kids how to stay safe around campus. Prep them with safety basics they should follow whether they’re on campus, in their dorm room, or on the road.

Help Them Find Independence

You’re not always going to be there. Now’s the time to teach your children about anything and everything that could help them once they leave home. Whether that’s how to save a buck or two on gas to how to get that ramen broth stain out of their favorite t-shirt, as mundane as it may sound, its the little things that teach your children to look out for themselves and take care of their needs.

Let them do the wrong thing to find the right thing. It’s tempting to step to regulate your child’s everyday life in the name of safety, and when you’re child is just an adolescent, some parents find that they need to keep a handle on their kids. It’s a good practice, however, for parents to pull back little by little as a child gets older. Keep in mind that many college freshmen are immediately met with the challenge of having too much time on their hands. Where their life may have been structured before, there is a noticeable lack of it in college. 
Responsibility, regulation, and free time. It’s important to let your children learn the importance of self-control, self-regulation, and personal responsibility while they have a soft place to land in high school. Reward healthy and smart choices, but outline consequences for poor behavior. This is a chance to show your child that you trust them and their decision-making skills. This is a chance for them to understand that parental guidance may not be readily available when they enter college. Eventually, they’ll have to make smarter choices on their own.

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