How do I prepare my teenager and myself for college?

You’ve made it. The months are winding down and your teen is preparing to leave the nest and jump into their first year of college.

College preparation is more than applications and test scores. Your teen will soon be navigating life on their own and must be equipped to handle the new freedom.

College is a turning point for both you and your teen. So, what steps can you take to make sure you both are prepared for this monumental shift?

Though time may seem short, there are several things you can still do to help you both cope with the upcoming change.

1. Make a campus visit

As your teen prepares for college, visiting potential schools can help them choose the one that best fits their academic and social needs.

If your teen doesn’t feel connected to their college of choice, they could easily become unhappy and lose focus.

A campus visit will also be beneficial to you. Being able to see where your teen will be living for the next few years will help you get an understanding of their new surroundings and begin to set your mind at ease.

2. Set up an academic plan

Whether your teen has thought about career choices or not, having a plan for the next four years will keep them focused on the bigger picture—graduation.

Take time before they head off to college to come up with a flexible timeline. Make sure to discuss classes, internship opportunities and extracurricular activities.

This is also a great time to make your expectations known. Do they need to maintain a certain grade point average? Putting this and your other expectations into their academic plan will help your teen keep their responsibilities in check.

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3. Reiterate important life skills.

Does your teen have the necessary skills to live independently? Now would be a great time to practice the important skillset they will need to navigate life without you.

Teaching your teen how to do simple chores such as laundry and cooking, will give them confidence in their new setting.

Most freshman will have a meal plan through their school, but supplying your teen with simple meals that can be made within the confines of their dorm, will prove to be invaluable.

Also, taking a few minutes to explain how to sort and wash their clothes will mean your teen won’t have to lug their laundry home on the weekends.

Other skills to review with your teen while they prepare for college include car maintenance, general chores, and basic first aid.

4. Teach them to manage their money.

Will your teen have a part time job while away? Will they have to pay their own bills?

The earlier you talk to your teen about financial responsibility, the better position they’ll be in when they head off to school.

In college, your teen will be exposed to financial situations they may have never dealt with before. Encourage them to make budgeting an important step as they prepare for college.

Understanding their finances will help to lessen the burden as your teen heads into their first months of school. Have your teen prioritize bills and other necessities and educate them on the importance of adding to their savings.

Make sure their budget includes room for fun. No college experience is complete without spontaneous trips to the movies and late-night pizza orders. Budgeting for fun will help your teen stick with their financial goals.

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5. Show them the importance of time management and prioritisation.

Does your teen still rely on you to wake them in the morning if they’ve missed an alarm, or remind them to finish homework before watching their favorite show?

Your teen will soon be managing every second of their own life. Without proper time management or prioritisation skills, college will quickly become overwhelming.

Although a quick text in the morning while they’re away could help motivate your teen to get out of bed or update them on upcoming appointments, learning to manage their own time will give your teen a greater sense of independence and better prepare them for life after college.

You can help them along by sharing tips such as creating to-do lists, and setting deadlines, and encouraging them to keep a daily planner.

Trusting your teen

Gone are the days of first words and play time. Your teen has reached the final milestone that will transition them into adulthood.

You’ve been their biggest support up to this point and the care you have given them since birth has been preparing them for this moment.

As your teen wraps up their final preparations for college, and head into their first year, they will be equipped with the valuable skills and words of wisdom you have imparted on them over the years.

It is now time to trust that you have taught them enough to make careful decisions and be a responsible adult.

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