Even if your children are still in high school, it’s never too early to start preparing your son or daughter for college life. After all, your wisdom and guidance can have an important impact on their college career. From scheduling campus tours to practicing budgeting, we’ve rounded up five practical ways to steer your child toward the path of preparedness.
5 Tips for Preparing your Child for College
As a parent, you play a huge role in setting your child up for college success. Whether your first child is going to college or your only child is leaving for college, it’s best to start the preparation process sooner rather than later!
Follow these five tips for preparing your child for college to ensure they have everything in order before classes begin.
1. Schedule a Campus Tour
When your child is weighing their college options, a campus tour can equip them with the information they’ll need to apply with confidence. Scheduling a campus tour will allow your child to explore the grounds, amenities, and get a feel for the general atmosphere — which will help your student narrow down the campus environment that best suits their needs.
If your child is unsure if a large state school or a small liberal arts college is the right place for them, a campus tour is in order. Taking an in-person tour and popping into a lecture hall will offer some perspective of what their day-to-day could look like on each campus.
While there are advantages to both large and small campuses, some prospective students may find themselves overwhelmed by an urban setting, sprawling campus, or 500 person lecture halls. On the other hand, some students may feel underwhelmed by a small, quiet suburban campus, fewer extracurricular opportunities, or limited class offerings.
Visiting a variety of campuses early on can help give your child direction during the application process. Keep in mind, virtual tours are an excellent, alternative option when it comes to out-of-state universities.
Even if your child already has an idea of where they’d like to attend, a tour provides the opportunity to locate specific buildings, find out what services are available, and even inquire about social activities — like groups, clubs, or teams they may want to join.
While on your tour, encourage your student to ask questions — and don’t be afraid to raise questions yourself!
2. Talk About School-Life Balance
Much like work-life balance, school-life balance is all about empowering your child to set necessary boundaries between their academics and their personal life. To succeed on campus, your child will have to balance academics, extracurriculars, work, and social life.
Striking that balance often proves difficult for college students. College students often prioritize academics at the expense of personal factors, like their relationships, exercise, or even sleep. Ultimately, this can lead to burnout.
Teaching your child how to create school-life balance early on will be a huge help, especially during their freshman year. Before your child heads off to college, communicate the importance of balance.
Talk to your child about carving out dedicated time for both studying and socializing. Provide them with study tips that will help them work smarter instead of harder.
Your child’s health and wellbeing are closely tied to their academic performance. Encourage your child to keep a consistent mealtime and sleep schedule. Encouraging this kind of harmony could make all the difference in whether they thrive at school, or burn out before they complete their first semester.
3. Teach Them How to Budget
Learning to properly budget is a must when your child is wondering how to prepare for college in high school. Up to this point, your child might not have had much exposure to money beyond their allowance or payments from their part-time job. But the reality is, once they go to college they’ll be responsible for managing their own finances — which means budgeting for both expected and unexpected charges, paying their bills or rent for an off-campus apartment, and possibly managing their student loans, groceries, books, subscriptions, and more.
Unfortunately, a lot of kids never learn to reconcile a bank statement or create a realistic budget for themselves. But by teaching your child how to budget and save, you’ll be setting them up for success while they’re at college and beyond. This financial knowledge will empower them to make smarter spending choices — and hopefully, help them avoid having to call home for help.
4. Encourage Extracurriculars
Extracurricular activities go hand-in-hand with having a school-life balance. Extracurriculars can add value to your child’s social life and to their skillset. When you encourage your child to sign up for extracurriculars, there’s a good chance this happiness and enjoyment will result in greater life satisfaction and translate into success in the classroom.
Regardless if they’re interested in getting involved with a sports team, an academic club, or a young professionals group, extracurriculars build a sense of community, belonging, and self-confidence they might not find anywhere else.
For as an added bonus, this could also help you with how to cope when your child moves out. Once you’re an empty nester, you’ll have greater peace of mind while your child is away knowing they’re involved on campus and have a robust social life.
5. Discuss Personal Responsibilities
For many students, heading off to college is their first taste of true personal responsibility. Once on campus, your future college student will likely have a more flexible schedule and more freedom than they’re used to. That’s why it’s so necessary to have a heart-to-heart regarding the personal and social responsibilities they’re about to face.
While these conversations can get a little uncomfortable, it’s healthy to discuss tricky topics with your teen. You might address issues like drugs or drinking, negotiating roommate issues, or resisting peer pressure from fellow students.
Having a candid chat is the best way to ensure they feel emboldened in their choices, and to think through how they’d respond in a hypothetical situation before it ever happens. This sense of autonomy is powerful and can go a long way in how they navigate the next four years.
Furnish Their Off-Campus Apartment with CORT
It might be hard to believe you’ve already reached this milestone, but it’s really time for your child to leave the nest! But even after you’ve prepared them for college as best you can, they might still need help furnishing their off-campus abode.
The good news is, with furniture rental packages from CORT, they can get whatever they need to furnish their apartment all in one convenient place. What’s more, CORT will even set up their space prior to move-in, and then come pick everything up at the end of their lease — it doesn’t get much easier (or better) than that!