One of the biggest adjustments for new college students is the newfound freedom. College students have an increase in personal responsibility and a lot less external structure. There are no set study times, no required meal times, no one to tell them when to sleep or get them up, an increase in their academic workload, a greater need to multi-task and balance and a myriad of new social opportunities and challenges. The following are skills that will help you develop your own internal structure and be successful in college:
Prepare a weekly schedule that includes time in class, studying, activities, work, meals, study, and time with friends. Being a college student is like having a full-time job. Several hours of studying and preparation are expected for each class.
Regular exercise, adequate rest, good nutrition, prayer and/or meditation are all suggested ways of engaging in self-care that reduces stress. Finding ways to increase coping resources will help students decrease the stressors that life will throw your way.
Even some of the best high school students have not always developed good study skills. Knowing how to read a text book, take notes in class, use the library and take multiple choice tests are all areas that will help you be more successful in the classroom.
It is important to have experience in independently handling money, balancing a checkbook, using an ATM, reading a bank statement and learning to make responsible decisions about living on a budget.
Speak up for yourself in an assertive manner that is not aggressive or passively allowing others to take advantage of you. Assertiveness skills are helpful in roommate communication, study groups, teams and conflict resolution. They also involve learning and practicing healthy boundaries.
WELL-DEVELOPED SELF CARE SKILLS
Develop bedtimes based on physical need and health. Adequate sleep and a healthy diet can improve mood, athletic and classroom performance, and coping strategies for stress. Exercise, relaxation, and good hygiene are also important aspects of self-care.
KEEPING SAFE AND AVOIDING RISKY BEHAVIORS
Staying safe means learning to advocate for your well-being. It means making smart and low-risk choices and planning for the “what ifs” in life.
SEEKING ASSISTANCE WHEN NEEDED
A big part of advocating for yourself is knowing when to ask for help. The college years are a time for learning new information, new life skills and a new way of relating with our world. Seeking help when you need it is a sign of strength and integrity, not an admission of failure.
RESPECTING THE RULES AND POLICIES
Every community has rules and policies and our college campus is no different. Our rules and policies apply to safety and fostering a positive community where all students are respectful of themselves, others and the environment.
DISPLAYING HONESTY, INTEGRITY, AND PERSEVERANCE
Learning to incorporate personal values and ethics into every aspect of life is a significant part of personal growth during the college experience. Part of the path of integrity is learning how to hang in there and stay committed to goals even when situations are challenging.
As your child settles into the high school experience, it’s a great time for them to take on new challenges. It’s also not too early to explore colleges, college majors, and career goals. Use the list below to make 10th grade count.
- Make sure your child meets with the school counselor. Your sophomore should schedule a meeting to talk about college and career options and to make sure he or she is taking the most appropriate classes.
- Encourage your child to set goals for the school year. Working toward specific goals helps your high schooler stay motivated and focused.
- Make a plan to check in regularly about schoolwork. If you keep up with your child’s tests, papers, and homework assignments, you can celebrate successes and head off problems as a team.
- Talk about extracurricular activities. Getting involved in clubs and other groups is a great way for your child to identify interests and feel more engaged in school.
- Help your 10th-grader get ready to take the PSAT, if their school offers it to sophomores. Taking the test this fall can help your child prepare for the SAT or ACT and get on track for college. Sophomores can also use their score reports to figure out which academic areas they need to work on.
- If your child was not offered the PSAT as a 10th-grader, they may be offered the PSAT 10 in February or March. They are the same test, just offered at different times of the year.
- Review PSAT 10 or PSAT results together. Log in to the student score reporting portal with your child to learn what she or he is doing well and which skills your child should work on to get ready for college and career.
- Start thinking about ways to pay for college. Most families get help paying for college costs.
- Discuss next year’s classes. Make sure your child will be challenging him- or herself and taking the courses college admission officers expect to see. Learn more about the high school classes that colleges look for.
- Make a college wish list together. Talk with your 10th-grader about qualities he or she may want in a college in terms of location, size, majors offered, and so on. Check out How to Find a College That Fits You to learn more about deciding on college must-haves.
- Help your child make summer plans. Summer is a great time to explore interests and learn new skills — and colleges look for students who pursue meaningful summer activities. Find out five ways your high schooler can stay motivated this summer.
- Visit a college campus together – in person or online. It’s a great way to get your 10th-grader excited about college.
- Get the facts about college costs.
- Help your sophomore explore career ideas. He or she can make a list of interests, talents, and favorite activities and start matching them with occupations.
- Come up with fun reading ideas. Look for magazines or newspapers your child may like and talk about the books you loved reading when you were in high school. If your family makes reading enjoyable, it can become a daily habit.
Questions? Let’s chat!
Founder, Weil College Adfvising, LLC
We survived the all-encompassing moving into college, classes started, we set our phone call routine with our college student. We are somewhat adjusting to the empty room, the quiet house, and the colder mornings.
And then comes visiting weekend. Strange as it feels, we are coming to visit or child in his/her space for a weekend packed with activities, and then leave…
As I have gone through this experience several times – with my own children as well as with the families I work with – I compiled a list of considerations for those of you who are new to “visiting weekend”:
1. What was left behind. Communicate with your student if there is anything that was left behind that will be useful to have. In my case, this is the time to bring what didn’t fit in the car, and the special requests: snow boots, sled, poster hanging in his room, extra blanket, an electric kettle to make tea and soup.
2. Snacks are always welcome! Bring a good selection of the goodies you know your student likes. If you can bake, make something that your student can keep in the room and share with friends. It will probably be consumed in a few hours (teenagers..) so I wouldn’t worry about refrigeration. I also include cereal, cookies, granola bars, chips, dry fruit, nuts, soups and beverages. It is always useful to have a large plastic container to keep all of these goodies, that can be tucked under the bed.
3. Dinner Reservations. If you are planning to go out for lunch or dinner with your student (and perhaps invite some friends?) ask your student where to go and make a reservation. You are not the only parent with those intentions.
4. Empathy for Others. This is an opportunity to teach your student empathy: mention that there are students whose family cannot come to family weekend, and might enjoy coming to lunch or dinner with your family. However, if your student is not comfortable with this idea, I would not insist.
5. Flexibility. The activities planned by the college may or may not be your student’s favorite way of spending time with you. Be open minded and flexible, and prepare yourself to change plans at the last minute.
6. Have a Plan B. Be ready to be “dumped” by your student if a “better plan” comes along. Remember that your student loves you and is happy to see you, but parties and friends have a priority in their lives at this time. If and when you realize that you are priority number 2 or 3, don’t give your teenager a hard time! (as long as they are nice about it). Instead, have a “plan B” in your sleeve: a good book, something fun to do in the area, or meet other parents who have been dumped too! Think that right now, the fact that you are not a priority is healthy.
7. Don’t Clean Up! At all costs, contain your urge to clean their room! Chances are that it will not be up to your standards, the bathroom in particular. However, keep in mind that you are a visitor. You can be humorous about your “different cleanliness standards”, but do not nag or take any action. Just smile and move on.
8. Ask for a tour of their Hangouts. To the extent that your student is comfortable with you interacting with his friends, ask your child to introduce them to you. Make every attempt to know more about their “new life”, it is important for your child to feel your approval! I usually ask for a tour of my sons’ favorite hang-outs. Of course, I have visited the school before, but this new tour will be an opportunity to understand better how they experience the school.
9. Compliment, compliment, compliment! Remember when your child gave his/her first steps, how you clapped and cheered? Your child is now trying his/her first steps into independence. Show that you are happy for them, that you like what you see (if you really do) and you trust them to make the right choices. If you like what you see, make sure you clap and cheer (figuratively speaking).
Enjoy visiting weekend with your student!
Founder, Weil College Advising, LLC
by the Center of Cognitive Therapy
Every teen puts off a task. I’ll email my teacher tomorrow. I’ll start my homework after I finish watching this show. Some teens, however, are big-time procrastinators and there are a couple of reasons some teens procrastinate so much. First, some teens have trouble accurately estimating how much time something will take to complete. They think that they’ll have more time to get something done than they actually do and put it off until they can’t anymore.
The second reason some teens procrastinate is that it’s difficult for them to manage the stress, anxiety, or even boredom they anticipate feeling and they then put off starting tasks. It’s hard to blame them for this. Who wants to start something that’s going to be difficult? If your teen is a big-time procrastinator, here are six things you can do to help:
- Help Your Teen Break Down Tasks, Even Small Ones. Remember, that teens who procrastinate see certain tasks as overwhelming or very difficult. Helping your teen break assignments into smaller steps can help decrease the distress of tasks. This is called chunking and you can teach your teen to do this. Chunking helps teens develop a can-do attitude and that helps them start. For example, if your teen has an essay to write, you can help the teen identify the steps (write an outline, research each section of the outline) and commit to writing one segment of the outline at a time. If your teen has trouble estimating how much time it takes to complete a task, you can ask your teen to estimate the time to complete the step and to write the time it actually took to complete the task. In this way, you help your teen learn to more accurately estimate the time it takes to complete specific tasks.
- Ask Your Teen to Rate Confidence to Complete Task. At the end of the day, it all comes down to confidence, and when it comes to procrastination, you can help build your teen’s confidence by changing the task. Ask teens to rate their confidence, from 0% to 100%, that they can complete a particular task, then adjust or break down the task until they’re 90% confident (or greater) that they can complete the task in the time set aside to do it. It helps if you explain to your teen that confidence is something we build over time. As teens improve their ability to accurately estimate the amount of time it takes to complete particular tasks and they more often complete tasks on time, the more confident they become that they can complete things on time.
- Help Your Teen Anticipate Roadblocks and Plan Work Arounds. Often teens manage to start tasks but then bale out when they hit a roadblock. Sometimes the roadblock is needing something to complete the task that they don’t have, like a book or a worksheet, or teach your teen to take 5 minutes before beginning the task to go through a checklist. The checklist is usually three questions: Do I have all the information I need to complete the task? How much time do I have to complete the task? What other appointments do I have that will make it hard for me to complete the task on time? Teach your teen to brainstorm possible solutions and, more importantly, teach them that preparing for a task before beginning can save them time and make tasks less difficult.
- Help Your Teen Identify Best Times for Specific Tasks. Help your teen set up the best time to work on particular tasks. For example, most teens are not morning people, so tasks that take a lot of thinking power might not work so well when teens work on them in the morning. that works for them. Other tasks that get your teen moving, such as chores around the house, might work best at times when your teen’s energy is low. Last, teach your teen to build some extra time into their schedules so that they can complete things that are taking more time than they expected.
- Help Your Teen Develop Start-Now Self-Talk. Most teens who procrastinate are great at talking themselves into putting things off. I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll do it when I’m not so tired. Help your teen develop start-now self-talk that interrupts these permission thoughts. For example, help your teen think through the reasons to complete the task now and write them down. To the thought, “I’ll do it later,” suggest your teen think, “What’s so bad about doing it now?” Or, ask your teen to write down all the consequences they’ve experienced when they procrastinate and name it My Procrastination Hassle List. Encourage your teen to read the hassle list before beginning to work.
- Help Your Teen Be Better Than Perfect. Perfectionism. Better than perfect? Perfectionistic teens can be big-time procrastinators. They wait until they have the time to complete a task “perfectly” or they rework things over and over trying to make it perfect and this process makes any task more difficult and more stressful. Once teens have been through that process a time or two, they’re not likely to want to start it again. Help your teen be better than perfect. Better than perfect is excellence on time and once teens learn that, their lives become easier and happier.