4 Things You Can Do To Start Preparing Your Child For College Today

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If your child chooses to attend college, it can be a bittersweet experience. For your child, it can mark a monumental step into adulthood and independence, yet a large percentage of high school students are heading off to college grossly unprepared. A Hechinger Report showed that over half a million college students enrolled are not ready for college-level work. In states such as California, many high school students feel ill-equipped to apply to college, and a rising number of college students are seeking help for anxiety. As a parent, it is never too early to begin helping them prepare for the transition – with the help of simple tips that you can practice today and will last for life.

Teach Them A Crash Course In Budgeting

Whether you will be funding your child’s college education or they will be relying on a student loan, budgeting will come in handy for managing their finances. Around two-thirds of college students borrow money. However, a shocking proportion of them lacks even the most basic financial knowledge. As a result, students are not only facing the emotional and educational challenges of college life, but 36 percent of them already have over $1,000 in credit card debt. 

While showing your child the handy mobile personal budgeting apps now available is a good start, be sure to sit with them and teach them how to budget the old fashioned way – with a pen and paper. Do this purely to teach them the concept behind tracking incomings and outgoings, and how to recognize wasteful spending habits. Simple columns and categories for spending on food, entertainment and clothing shopping can be enough to teach them the skill. Keeping track of their income and outgoings gives them more control over their money, and helps to prevent overdue bills and a poor credit score.

Help Them Start An Emergency Fund

Having a rainy day fund is not just a savvy financial tip for adults; it is very useful for college life as well. Getting into the habit of routinely putting money away for emergencies sets them up well to adopt this habit later in life. Also, college is notorious for unexpected expenses. This way you can rest easier that they are prepared if this happens. Finally, most college students have seasonal or part-time jobs that may not cover all expenses as they occur. Helping your college-bound child start an emergency fund is as simple as helping them set up a separate savings account, and suggesting to them that they include it as a standard bill in their budget each month.

Start A Conversation About The Emotional Side Of College

In a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, 60 percent of college students felt they were not ready emotionally for college. Many of them deal with anxiety, depression, homesickness and other emotions that come with being away from home. Helping your child adopt good self-care habits such as exercise, meditation and good sleep hygiene gives them valuable coping skills. It is also important to help your child know where to seek help should they need it. Speak to them about campus facilities for mental and emotional well-being, national helplines, and the importance of confiding in friends or family if they need to.

Help Them Organize Their Current Schedule

Organization will be key to your child being successful, happy and healthy in college. Most students tend to work in tandem with their classes, social and sporting activities. This can create a very hectic and stressful atmosphere during college term time. Start with teaching them to use checklists for their homework, projects or even college application requirements when they are deciding what and where to study, whether that’s online or in a traditional setting. A pro and con list can help them narrow down their college and degree choices.

If they are still in high school or preparing to take the SATs, help them draw up a study timetable. Finally, create and assign a decluttered study space. Having a designated desk for studying, writing or plotting out career steps is key to remaining focused and accomplishing their goals.

Helping your child become equipped with the best tools to tackle their challenges head-on is not only about them succeeding in college, but it is also about you preparing your child for life beyond college. These skills will not only help them overcome their adversities in their next chapter; it will get them ready for the challenges that come with adulthood.

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