How to Prepare Your Child for College

prepare your child for college

7658261288_9673fa20eb_zThat 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.

If they feel like they would like to be in a field where they could help others, there are different careers they can pursue to achieve it. An?online bsw?for example, can help people who are at risk to social and economic injustices and discrimination.

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

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  1. This stage of life of parents seems to be kinda intimidating to me. My kid is just 4-year-old, I am thankful of that. Actually right now, I have plans for her, but I’ll let her control it almost all in the future. I and my wife will just be support and give advice to her whenever she needs it. We’ll just be here always for her.

  2. I don’t have kids, so I can only talk about my college experience. The only thing that I did to prepare for college was to go to a private school to get a better education. While there I was able to join groups and play sports, which helped with college acceptance.

    Other than that, it was like just getting thrown into the fire when I got to college. The first few weeks were rough, but I figured things out and slowly but surely, college became a highlight of my life.

    When I do have kids, I plan to help them be as well-rounded as possible, but will not force them to go one way or the other when it comes to picking a major, etc. They need to figure out what they enjoy doing and go from there.

    • Laurie says:

      Jon, loved hearing about your experience. Those years leading up to college need to be years where we are teaching our kids to spread their wings and make their own decisions, such as picking a major. Love what you said about letting them figure out what they enjoy and going from there – that’s the way to do it!

  3. Mark says:

    Part of the preparation is a hard look at finances. It really helps to let the future student see where the money is going and where it it coming from.

  4. I think that what most people don’t realize is that bad money habits really start in college and parents focus on their kids being prepared academically and emotionally but neglect to help them with the financial aspect. It’s the perfect time to help them with budgeting and planning, especially as they are making more decisions on their own.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Shannon! This is why we’re being so rigorous with personal finance in our homeschooling curriculum, in hopes that our children will have a stellar handle on money management and the potential dangers of debt when they get out on their own.

  5. I missed a few of these lessons before I went to college. Now that I’m back in my hometown, I’ve been talking to some of the high school teachers and college (we have a community college) about incorporating a PF class to help students avoid debt, or deal with it if they already have it.

  6. Nice post, Laurie! I have a seven year old daughter and I asked her what she wants for a college course. She told me that she wanted to be a chef and she wants to own a restaurant someday. 🙂

  7. And do not forget to prepare them for something other than college. Some kids are just not cut out for academics. Getting into one of the trades is a great way to make a living too. Or join the military.

    • Laurie says:

      I totally agree, and we are doing that with our kids. We’re training them to discern what THEY want to do and feel is the best path for themselves, instead of gearing them solely toward college.

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