By Cathy Huseby
Is your son or daughter starting college this fall -- and can't wait for the adventure? Or are they a little nervous? The mix of emotions as they graduate from high school and anticipate beginning college is very normal, especially given this big life transition. Welcome to the world! This is where the skills they have learned and are in their toolkit will come into play -- skills that may be new to them, but are the adult tools we use every day, and ones they will hone as they grow and use them. Helping them prepare for this transition is a gift you can give your son or daughter over the next few months. Here are a few tips:
Regarding Transitions: It's pretty common to feel homesick when living away from home for the first time. Help your son or daughter navigate those feelings, and then help them know how to strategize getting involved in college. They will meet students similar to them, and some that are different. Help them know they don't need to change to fit in. Let them know that finding their niche is important, as well as being true to themselves.
Regarding Roommates: Living with roommates can be a wonderful, fun and rewarding experience! Sharing a room with someone is also a great growth opportunity. Talking about expectations ahead of time is important. Learn about each other's styles and talk about how to work with them. This can help minimize conflict, whether it's regarding music (loud? only with ear buds?), cleaning (who does it? how often?), messiness (where to allow messes?), decorating styles, friends over, boyfriend/girlfriend over (boundaries with this), etc.
Regarding Day-to-Day Stuff: Hopefully, your son or daughter has had experience managing day-to-day stuff, but the summer before they launch is a great time to sharpen those skills! They should be doing laundry, grocery shopping, planning and cooking meals, managing a checking account/debit card, and figuring out how to get around -- all skills they'll need before college begins. Essentially, it's Independent Problem Solving - learning to figure out things on their own.
Life in the Classroom: There will be many new things (activities, people) pulling for their attention in college. Not only will they need to learn how to handle this, but don't be surprised if their GPA isn't quite as high as it was in high school. They're competing with other strong students here, after all. TIME MANAGEMENT will take on new meaning - and learning how to do it effectively is a fantastic life-long skill. Remember, school is their priority and learning to advocate for themselves is essential for success. Choosing early on how to prioritize their time (party? or study?) will make a difference.
Student Life: Oh, yes. The reason they need these skills is because they will be college freshmen -- new to the university! As such, they'll need to know how and where to get financial aid or student accounts questions answered, how /where to talk to an advisor (either a general academic advisor or one in their major), where the career center is (they'll want to spend time here! This is a hub for internships, part time jobs, and career direction), where the student health center is, and where to get the scoop on getting involved on campus.
Your student will thrive in college. The road may have a few bumps, but with this tool kit, they are sure to have the skills needed to weather the bumps and to really enjoy the ride.