5 Tips to Prepare Your Kid for College

Getting ready to send your kid off to college can be daunting. After you’ve scoured countless shops for the perfect pillows and performed many demonstrations on how to separate the darks and lights, there’s the (really important) part about getting them ready to navigate their time and responsibilities on their own.

Preparing your kid for the college years doesn’t have to be as big as the pile of laundry they will bring with them their first trip home. The key is helping them dial up the skills they already have to be ready for college life.

Maximize Productivity

College is a juggling act. Between classes, homework, socializing and work, it’s easy for students to let responsibilities drop. However, the reason some students thrive while others flounder is usually tied to productivity. You can help your son or daughter by showing them the tricks you use (e.g., batching work, scheduling breaks) to stay productive and efficient.

Play to Your Strengths

College is a marathon, not a sprint. Your kid needs to stay motivated during the race. This is the best reason to schedule at least one class per semester that allows him or her to operate in the brilliant zone – the place where your kid’s knowledge, aptitude and talent are perfectly suited to the subject matter.

Suck It Up

College is like City Hall. You can’t fight it! There will be classes on Mondays at 8 a.m. And there will be classes less appealing than a C-Span marathon. Rather than letting your kid vent about the cruel and unusual punishment, change the focus. Explain how everything in life – even dream jobs – involve tradeoffs.

College life today encourages whining and complaining. Your kid should know beforehand to avoid students given to that. Why? It’ll rub off on them. Instead, teach him or her to focus on the prize, completing the course, moving on to better things and even graduation down the line.

Welcome Leadership

College is a training ground for leaders. Think about it – the two main groups on campus, students and faculty/administrators, have competing interests. Someone must represent the students. Why not your kid? There’s little competition as many students don’t want the extra responsibility.

College is the perfect place to learn, practice and refine the qualities needed to lead. There’s almost no risk so they can strike out without fear! The upside is they will learn what few other students do, putting them at a competitive advantage later in life.

Always Be Learning

College is more than the grades on the transcript. Meaning, a “C+” achieved through struggling and grappling with the material may be more valuable long-term than an “A” achieved through mindless repetition.

Teach your kid to process information while in college. This way, he or she will learn things in unlikely places, including the easy classes (See Point 3). Think about this: Steve Jobs entered college with the intention of studying physics. He dropped out before graduating but hung around long enough to audit a calligraphy class. What he learned in that class was the inspiration for the fonts used in the first Macintosh computer. You never know what will spark greatness in your kid.

Technology is changing the college model. In the last decade, distance learning, online degrees, even free classes have gone mainstream. But one thing hasn’t changed and that is college is still about mastering fundamental skills. You want your kid to think beyond college before he or she begins college. That’s the kind of preparation to focus on.

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