How to Prepare Your Teen for College
Graduation season is upon us, are you ready? Is your teen ready? Have you started prepping them for college? If not this post is about how to prepare your teen for college. College is something some children wait their whole lives for. High School years are normally spent anticipating graduation, planning, and preparing. I remember counting down the days til I would be able to hit the Quad and start my life as a College Freshman. Excited and nervous those were the emotions that I felt. For me, the thought of moving over 2 hours from home, meant NO ADULT SUPERVISION, which equated to Party Time. Yet, there was some fear that ensued. I had never been on my own and was attending a school without any of my friends.
Many questions ran through my mind as I prepared to leave for college, some of them weren’t answered until after I arrived at school. Some of them remain unanswered. Admission, I wasn’t properly prepared to be on my own but faked it until I made it. Leaving home and attending college was a huge change in my life. A change that required preparation that I didn’t have. Unfortunately, my mother had passed away 4 years earlier and my father had no clue what he was doing with me (bless his soul). In the end, things did work out for the best, even though I had a learning curve.
Here is how you can prepare your teen for college:
- Keep open communication – This is going to be a busy and trying time for your teen. They are in between being a minor child at home and a responsible adult seeking independence. It will be important to keep the communication open and try to always be there for your teen. As they are transitioning onto this journey they need to know that you have their front and back. They need to know that they can talk to you about anything, even subjects that you might not be eager to discuss.
- Remind them that Credit Card Debt is REAL– Even if you’re helping with tuition or in other ways financially, money matters are going to get real at the college level. My first day on the Quad I applied and was APPROVED for every single credit card offer offered that day. Yeah, I ended up with about 20, yes 20 credit cards during my Freshman Year. I had never had a credit card before and definitely wasn’t financially responsible. That $25 minimum payment became not so easy when I had 20 minimum payments to make. Explain to your teen, how to be responsible with Credit Cards. Tell your teen not to apply for every offer just because the offer exists. One or two cards to start off with is great, more than that is a recipe for credit destruction.
- Teach them that Money Matters – In addition to decisions about Credit Cards, there will be financial decisions that your teen may not have ever faced. Giving some preparation on this beforehand will better equip your child for when the day comes that they need to make decisions like this. Teaching your teen how to balance their checkbooks, minimize their spending, and even couponing for their household/dorm goodies will help them become more financially responsible. A realistic budget is a must have in college.
- Give them responsibility – If you can’t trust your teen with things, how will you expect them to ever learn to trust themselves with responsibilities? You can start giving your child more responsibilities during the teen years as they work their way up to college. Many parents worry their teens will make mistakes but it’s important to give them the room to make mistakes. Just be there for them if they need help. Remember the best way for your teen to grow is through their own mistakes.
- Prepare them physically – Has your teen had her annual checkup? Does she have any medications that she needs to take to college with her? Are there food allergies? It’s important to ensure your teen is medically ready for college and also that he/she knows where to go in an emergency. Your teen should know what type of Health Insurance they have and how to seek help. You should also help them learn their bodies so they are able to recognize if something goes wrong.
- Practice life skills – Does your teen know how to wash dishes properly, do their own laundry, or cook simple meals? These are important life skills to have before going off to college and away from home. If your teen doesn’t know yet, now is the time to start teaching. My kids are 10 & 8, I have already started this, you gotta train a child up.
This is a big milestone you’ve probably been waiting a long time for. Now that the day is finally soon to arrive, you can feel prepared, or at least as prepared as you can be to see your child off to college.