How to Prepare Your Child for Success in College
It’s that time of year! Parents are filled with mixed emotions of excitement and anxiety as they prepare to send their sons and daughters off to college. You spent years preparing for this day – is your child ready to adapt to life on campus?
Approximately one third of new students entering college will drop out or not return to the same institution. Often referred to as “The Red Zone,” the first six weeks of freshman year is most crucial in determining the overall success of a college student. Here are effective talking points that you can discuss before you send your child off.
The greatest challenge for a freshman is time management. It’s easy to become distracted with socializing, the internet, video games, or social networking. Discuss prioritizing the structure of their day – academics first, socializing after.
Organization is the key. Encourage your child to utilize a calendar to maintain deadlines. They should refer to their syllabus and not leave long term projects for the last minute. This adds stress and they could perform poorly. They should seek out tutors if they encounter academic difficulties and set up meetings with their professor.
Balance is important! They should work hard, but it’s important to take time to do something that is fun. It helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Exercise is crucial for emotional and physical well-being. Talk about the importance of sleep to recharge mentally and physically. Sleep deprivation decreases memory retention, leading to lower grades. Encourage them to eat a well-balanced diet and watch the freshman 15!
Encourage your son or daughter to find a quiet place that is conducive to studying. It may not always be their dorm room. They might have a roommate who constantly socializes and entertains.
Many freshmen go crazy with their new-found freedom, turning the first semester into a free-for-all of partying. As a parent, firmly set your expectations.
I have met many students who were on the 5 or 6-year plan because they flunked classes their first year. Partying was their priority. A college education is expensive – you don’t want to add thousands of dollars to your debt! One student shared that she had a full scholarship and partied hard her first semester, culminating in a .8 GPA! She lost her scholarship. Her parents made her move home and pay for her own education at a local campus. She had many regrets.
High-risk drinking is the behavior that interferes most with a successful college education today. Students need to learn to have a good time without a social lubricant. Much of that comes from self-esteem and feeling comfortable in their own skin. Campuses see negative outcomes, from lower GPA’s, increased drop outs, unprotected sex, sexual assaults, accidental injuries and deaths, aggressive behavior, and property damage.
It is natural to feel homesick. Some experience it right away, others, several weeks into the semester. If you call your child everyday it can enhance homesickness. Give them a little space so they have time to adapt.
Encourage them to create a new family and long-lasting relationships by joining clubs and organizations that are of interest. They will quickly find like-minded people and easily develop a sense of connection with the campus community.
This is an exciting time in your child’s life. There will be positive experiences, and some challenges along the way. A positive, resilient attitude goes a long way. While you might have anxiety about sending them off, trust that you raised them well to be prepared for this next chapter in their life.