Instilling life skills
In order for your teen to truly thrive in their college career, it’s vital that they have a grasp on what living on their own is like. Equipping them with the skills to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally is what sets the stage for readiness and confidence as they transition into this next phase of life.
Take a look at some of the skills that can set them up for success
- Find opportunities to practice independence early and often: This could take the form of encouraging your teen to take on part-time jobs, allowing them to manage their own schedules, or even letting them handle minor household repairs. It's like a safety net; they get to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them in a familiar environment. This way, when they step onto campus, they'll be well-versed in handling the curveballs college might throw at them.
- Build interpersonal skills: Building interpersonal skills isn't just about making friends, although that's certainly a key part of the college experience. It's about learning to interact with a broad range of individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Interpersonal skills such as empathy, active listening, and conflict resolution can help your teen form meaningful relationships and work effectively in group projects. College is like a mini-replica of the real world, and the ability to understand, communicate, and work effectively with others is a skill that will serve them well beyond their college years.
- Embrace and prepare for failure: It's all about resilience. When your teen learns that it's okay to stumble and fall, they also learn how to dust themselves off and come back stronger. By learning to view failure not as a setback but as a learning opportunity, your teen is more likely to take risks, explore new areas, and persist in the face of challenges. So, although it may be tough, let them make mistakes and face the music.
Teaching the practicality and psychology of money
Understanding the practicality of money is vital at most any stage in life, but as your teen heads to college, ensuring they have a firm grasp on all that entails in being financially responsible will, quite literally, pay-off. College could essentially be the first time your teen is going to have full control over their avenues of income and spending habits. Not to mention, taking on the ability of understanding all of those nuanced details that come along with the cost of their education. A vital part is teaching them that money isn't just about buying stuff. It's about understanding how to budget, the value of a dollar, the repercussions of debt, and the satisfaction of saving.
Here's how to help your teen build a financial foundation
- Knowing the real cost of debt/cost of education and how it’s getting paid: College expenses are no joke, and knowing where the funds are coming from can put a lot of things into perspective for your teen. Be it scholarships, savings, or student loans, having a clear chat about how their education is being funded and their necessary contributions can help them understand the value of money and the responsibility that comes with it.
- Budgeting and building a safety net: Teaching teens about budgeting is like gifting them a financial GPS for their college journey. It's all about showing them how to allocate their money wisely, avoid debt traps, and save for those rainy days. These skills not only prepare your teen for the financial realities of college but also promotes financial independence and responsibility.
- Understanding credit cards: College can be a great opportunity for your teen to establish credit history which can benefit them later on in life. It's not just about swiping a card for purchases; it's about knowing when to use it, how to manage expenses, and how to avoid the pitfalls of accumulated debt. By comprehending the nuances of credit cards, your teen gains the ability to make informed decisions about spending, promoting a healthy financial habit that serves them throughout adulthood.
Finding their fit
One of the best ways you can support your teen as they prepare to transition to college life, is by helping them “find their fit.” Help find what makes them “tick,” where their passions lie and what roles and/or industries would best match their personality type. This self-awareness and focus can immensely ease their transition into the diverse and dynamic environment of college, while allowing them to pursue the areas and activities best suited for them.
Take a look at the few key areas that can help your teen find their fit
- Career aspirations: Having conversations around your teen’s interest, hobbies and passions is a great starting point for understanding what career path they might want to pursue. When they have a clear vision of their future profession, it's like they've got their own personal roadmap, guiding them through their studies. It gives them a reason to push through the tough assignments and late-night study sessions because they see how it ties into their future.
- Picking a major: Helping your teen pick a major isn't just about ticking a box on the college application. It's about finding that sweet spot where your teen's passions and real-world opportunities collide. Help them research different fields, explore the prospects, and understand how each major can shape their future. Most importantly, remind them that they don't have to have it all figured out right now. It's okay not to know or to change their mind down the line. The most important thing at this stage is to keep the lines of communication open, provide guidance, and maintain a supportive environment for exploration.
- Clubs: Finding clubs and extracurricular activities your teen would be interested in joining is a great way for them to explore opportunities to expand their horizons socially, academically and professionally. Most colleges have a multitude of different clubs that align with the majors they offer, allowing students to network and participate in hands-on activities outside of the classroom. If your teen has a sport or hobby they’re currently involved in at their high school, chances are their desired college will offer it as club or group to join. The opportunities to get involved on a college campus can be endless, so discussing with your teen ahead of time can help them to feel prepare and get them excited to find their fit.
As the time to send your teen off to college comes closer and closer, there’s much to consider in how to set them up for success as they head into this new phase of life. Encourage them to explore their passions, hone those life skills, and help them to understand the basics that can set them up for financial success. Remember, preparing your teen for college isn't about having all the answers, but rather guiding them to find their own.