It can be challenging for a parent to even think about their child going off to college, but in many cases, it’s the best thing for them to do to help them become the successful people they want to be. As a parent, you need to encourage them as much as possible and ensure that you support them where you can.
In fact, a teenager will probably be grateful to you if you can get behind their plans and help prepare them for college life, which will be very different from how they have lived up until now. With this in mind, here are just some of the things you can do to help your child get the best start in college and ensure they begin their adult lives on sound footing.
Help Them Choose A College
Before your child – and you – can prepare for college, they’ll need to know exactly which college they’ll be going to and what they want to study there. This is a huge decision that can affect the rest of their lives, so they can often feel a great deal of pressure.
Although they will need to make the final decision for themselves, by talking through the options together and by checking a college acceptance calculator to determine their likelihood of acceptance and what they need to do to boost their chances of getting accepted, you can help guide them and ensure they are taking the right things into account.
Once you have a shortlist of two or three colleges (or more, if necessary), it’s also a good idea to visit them with your child, as this can help to eliminate some choices and cement others. It will also put your mind at ease if you know exactly where they will be living and studying when the time comes.
Teach Them Useful Skills
Bearing in mind that your child is probably going to be moving away from home and living by themselves for the first time (online colleges and local colleges won’t necessitate this, of course, so it will depend on where they are going), giving them some practical life skills will be very useful and will help to prepare them for living away from home.
Some of the skills they’ll need include:
- Laundry and ironing
- Paying bills
- Being organized – having better time-keeping skills
All of these things will be useful not just at college but for the rest of their adult lives. The sooner you can start imparting this useful information, the better, as it will make their lives a lot easier when they move into college accommodation.
Talk About Safety
You won’t want to come across as a nagging parent or as over-protective, but talking to your teenager about safety at college is essential and will help prepare them. They won’t have you close by anymore, and you won’t be able to check that they are okay 24/7, so it’s crucial that, for both of your peace of mind, they are capable and sensible regarding their safety.
Although some of these topics can be difficult to address, it’s important to discuss things like drinking and driving (which is a big no-no – and drinking in the US is illegal below age 21 anyway), accepting rides from strangers, keeping their possessions (such as wallet, laptop, and phone) safe at all times, online safety, and much more. Even if they feel they know it all (as teenagers typically do), discussing this information with them will potentially help them, so it’s worth some eye-rolls just to let them know there are significant safety concerns to consider when they live alone.