Is Your Child Ready For College?
Going off to college is a major life transition that has a huge impact on your child. It can be both exiting and scary at the same time for everyone involved. However, accessing whether or not your child is in fact ready to go off to college requires more than just an evaluation of grades and test scores. Here are four more factors that I think parents should consider before sending their children off to college:
1) Emotional Readiness
In a 2015 paper published by the JED foundation, first year college students reported that they are faced with a “myriad of challenges, pressures such as paying for college expenses (40%), making new friends (30%), keeping in touch with family and friends not at their college (28%), and being independent (16%) were reported as being “extremely or very challenging,” and nearly half of students (45%) felt that “it seems like everyone has college figured out but me.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: According to Donna Volpitta, founder of the Center for Resilient Leadership, you should evaluate your child’s emotional readiness for college by asking yourself the following four questions:
2) Setting Long-Term Goals
The part of the brain responsible for “executive function” or the ability to create and take the steps necessary to complete long term goals.” is located in your child’s prefrontal cortex. However, the timeline for development of the prefrontal cortex varies from person to person. According to recent studies: the human brain does not reach full maturity until at least the mid-20s. But, in evaluating your child, know that the child who seemingly can’t “connect the dots” to complete large tasks at the beginning of senior year, could become very capable by graduation in the spring.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Practice the art of patience
3) The Right Mind Set
Many students are surprised at the differences in studying for college courses versus how they studied in high school. Regular worksheets are replaced by vast midterms and exams which require knowledge about concepts rather than simple memorization of facts. Students frequently discover they need to adapt their study habits to the college setting. Can your child manage her or time well?
WHAT YOU CAN DO: You can empower your child by simply keeping open the line of communication so that you can have meaningful conversations about such topics as the main differences between high school and college. How does your child envision college life? Here’s how high school compares with college:
High School: Quiet house, parents’ supervision
College: Noisy dormitories, little supervision
High School: 45- to 50-minute classes are the norm
College: 3-hour classes aren’t uncommon, a few classes are spread throughout the week
High School: Homework is checked regularly
College: Long-term papers and tests determine grades
4) A Strong Sense of Self: According to Dana Hall McCain, if your child possesses a strong sense of self and the confidence to maintain his or her own standards despite opposition, he’ll probably be just fine.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Evaluate your child’s readiness by asking yourself the following questions:
Finally, in my private practice I often tell my parents at the beginning of their child’s junior year that they should prepare for a lot of change. The same child that is sitting across from my desk in the summer after Junior year is unlikely to be the same person in the spring of Senior year. So while it is important to evaluate whether or not your child is ready for college, it is also important to know when to make that determination. May 1st is the national date that students must make their commitment to a college. The good news is that by that time, you will probably have a pretty good idea if your child is ready. If not, then it might be wise to seek professional guidance to explore other post high school options, including taking a gap year or perhaps working. Just know that each of us is on our own individual journey and that there are many different paths to the same goal.
Melanie Rome, M.A., P.P.S.
College Admissions Counselor
Since obtaining her Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA, Melanie has helped many students navigate the college admissions process while working in the counseling departments of several local high schools including the College Office of a large, academically challenging and nationally recognized school. Since beginning her private practice over 10 years ago, all of her students have been admitted to college and many have entered prestigious institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, Dartmouth, UCLA, USC, Caltech, Berkeley, and Penn. Melanie specializes in providing very personalized service in assisting students with completing applications, essay writing and evaluating and making informed school choices.
Her love of working with students prompted Melanie to further her own education and in December 2008 she received her Master of Arts in School Counseling. She is a member of several professional associations including the National Association of College Admission Counseling, the Higher Education Consultants Association and the Learning Disabilities Association. Melanie is also a non-fiction freelance writer and her stories have been featured in both national and local publications.
|Tags: College readiness, College transition, Ready for college, Tips for parents|