How to Prepare Your Student for College Life and Beyond

If your child is preparing to attend college in the coming months or years, you’re probably feeling a mixture of pride, excitement, and anxiety. One way to combat that anxiety is to make sure your child has the tools he’ll need to succeed academically, physically, and emotionally. One of the greatest graduation gifts you can give your student is the skill set to make a smooth transition from living at home with you to flying solo on his own.

Does Your Student Have the Necessary Life Skills?

When your student moves into a dormitory, apartment, or rental house, he won’t have you around 24/7 to wake him up, do his laundry, clean his room, cook his meals, etc. He’ll have to do these basic life skills himself—so make sure you teach him how! Go over this checklist with your child and provide explanations and instructions for any items that he may need help with:

  • How to sort laundry into darks and lights (and how to operate the washer and dryer)
  • How to iron clothes
  • How to use and empty a vacuum cleaner
  • Which cleaning products to keep on hand and what to use them for
  • How to make his bed
  • How to hire an Uber or Lyft or take public transportation
  • How to cook a few simple meals
  • How to schedule doctor and dentist appointments
  • How to budget fiances and pay bills
  • How to return an item to a local or online store
  • How to shop for groceries
  • How to do or schedule regular maintainance on his car (if he has one)

Additionally, it’s never too early to get your child into the habit of setting and waking up to an alarm so he’ll be on time to class or work. The ability to be on time and manage time responsibly are two of the most important skills a soon-to-be-independent young adult needs to have.

Does Your Student Have the Necessary Academic Skills?

Your child may be intelligent, but he’ll need more than smarts to succeed in college. Having the self-discipline to attend and pay attention in class is important. But so are these skills:

  • Being organized. Encourage your child to make checklists and organize his backpack and notebooks now so he’ll get used to those organizational habits when he’s on his own.
  • Being able to prioritize tasks. As we age, our responsibilities increase. Your child may juggle school, school clubs, a part-time job, sports practices, pets, a girlfriend, etc. Teach him to identify how to plan his time and determine which activities should be addressed first.
  • Being confident. Will your child be comfortable participating in class discussions or asking for help when he’s struggling? Encourage your child to be assertive and to practice talking to adult authority figures.
  • Being self-motivated. When your child is independent, he won’t have you to make sure he turns in a project or completes an assignment. Help him to keep his “eye on the prize” by instilling in him an understanding of why these things are important. If he wants to become an engineer, doctor, accountant, etc., he’ll need a college degree. The only way he’ll earn that degree is by having the internal drive to do what needs to be done.
  • Being emotionally intelligent. Last but not least, to succeed in the “real world,” your student should possess emotional intelligence—the ability to express, cope with, and understand emotions and approach life with a positive attitude. Emotional intelligence comes easier for some people than others. If your child struggles in this area, help him— or get help for him.

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