That little bundle of joy you brought home from the hospital what seems like yesterday will be headed off to college before you know it. Do you know how to prepare your child for college? What are some of the steps you should take to make sure your child is prepared to enter his first day of life as a grown up on a college campus? Today we’ll discuss a few things that you as a parent can do to make sure your child has what he or she needs to be prepared for their next phase of life.
Prepare Your Child for College Financially
We’ve all read the reports about how expensive college is these days, and how daunting the student loan burden is on young people. There are several things you can do to help prepare your child for the financial needs of college, even at a young age. Start by exploring college education fund options. Is a 529 right for your family, or are there other plans such as a prepaid tuition plan that may suit your child’s needs better? Educate yourself on the options available for college funding for your child, and start early, even if the amount you can put away right now is minimal. Ultimately, much of this is all done so as to help them avoid debt as much as possible to fund their education and down the line in later years.
Once your child starts high school, it’s a smart idea to start thinking about career paths and exploring potential scholarship and/or grant options. The different scholarships and grants available are based on a number of different variables, such as parents’ income and net worth, your child’s choice of major, your child’s grade average, and your child’s skills and interests.
The beginning of high school is also the time to let your child know how much, if anything, you as their parents will be able to contribute to their education expenses. And your contribution doesn’t necessarily need to come in the form of tuition payments either. You can offer to let them live at home for free, buy a rental property for them to live in during college, or offer to help teach them some side hustle options, they can use to earn money for college.
Preparing your child for college from a financial standpoint also means teaching them about how to budget, spend-track and use credit wisely. The more you know, and your child knows, about the options available for helping your child fund his college degree, the better prepared your child will be to make it through college financially stable and responsible.
Prepare Your Child for College Academically
Starting in 7th grade, it’s a good idea to get your child to start thinking about what types of career subjects might interest them. This will allow you to work with them to pick classes that will work to enhance their knowledge about their career interest field and even possibly get some college credits out of the way by programs such as the PSEO program. It’s also a good time to instill in your child the importance of good grades, extra-curricular activities, and getting involved with charitable causes and leadership opportunities, all of which will enhance their college applications when it’s time to send them out.
Prepare Your Child for College Emotionally
College is a different ball game for most kids. The freedom they will have in college, especially if they’re going to school far away from home, will likely be much different than their life as it is at home. Therefore it’s important that your child know what kinds of benefits, dangers and distractions there are in college life, so that they can be well prepared to handle those new and different obstacles and opportunities when they step foot on the college campus.
Prepare Your Child for College Practically
This means that you teach your child what it means to live on their own. Teach them how to do laundry, what the basic rules are for storing food, and what the basics of cooking healthy are. Give them opportunities to learn these things at home so that they’re well-prepared for life as an independent adult.
Sending your child off to college brings on a mix of emotions, some difficult as you long for the days of playing in the sandbox and playing Barbies with your used-to-be little one, and some exciting as you eagerly watch your child go off to grow into the person they’re meant to be. The more preparation you do ahead of time, the happier and less stressful all of these changes will be.
Have you done anything yet to prepare your child for college? Was there anything you wish you would’ve known before you left for your college career? If you’re a recent graduate, what’s one thing you would change for your potential future children with regards to going to college?
Photo courtesy of College Degrees 360