5 Best Ways to Prepare Your Kids for College

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When we started out in the career counseling world, we learned pretty quickly that many of our clients would be college students. Though they were bright and ambitious, many of these students were simply unaware of the challenges and realities they would face during their inevitable careers.

Below is a list of best practices for solving this widespread problem, which is rooted in preparation. You can help your kids by sending them to a great school or even picking a great college, but in some cases, that just isn’t enough.

5. Encourage enrichment and honors programs.

Many of my friends and colleagues were “forced” to take extra classes during their formative years. I say “forced” because at early ages, most of us didn’t want extra school. But these programs provide amazing paths to learning that will teach your child the value in getting more out of their schooling and anything else that is worth achieving in life.

4. Utilize free resources online.

There are countless websites that have the singular purpose to make your kids smarter. Start early and take advantage of what’s at your disposal.

3. Let your child fail.

As parents, we want the best for our kids, but this can sometimes get in the way of practical lessons. Growing up, I remember watching parents confront teachers on bad grades they had given to the child, complaining that the school had failed “them.” I understand the mentality of making sure bad marks don’t plague your child’s academics, but letting them take (and accept) that “F” can be an even more educational lesson than getting that “A.”

2. Use discretion when it comes to extracurriculars.

I’m the last person to discourage participation in sports and clubs. These are activities that help children learn great social skills, stay fit and keep out of trouble. At the same time however, you need to use discernment when it comes to the activities your child is taking on. We’ve come across many students who used their affinity for sports to coast through high school. It may have gotten them a scholarship, but it’s not helping them get through college.

1. Explain the realities of student loans.

I can’t tell you how many college students I’ve talked to who had no idea about the debt they signed into when they were 18. In many cases, this is because these loans are poorly explained to them by college recruiters and sometimes parents who just want the student to get into college by any means necessary.

What comes to mind when you think of preparing kids for college? Tell us your tips in the comments section below.

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