By: Kristen Nida (Guest Blogger)
We are so excited to have our college students home for the summer that we have gotten another one of our college students to agree to write about how we as parents can help our children prepare for college.
As a recent graduate, I can still look back and remember exactly how I felt the night before I left for college. When your child is preparing for college, there are likely many mixed emotions flying around in his/her head. This period of time is full of excitement, nerves, and jitters. This is when your child needs your voice of reason the most, although your child may not outright ask for it. There are many steps to take early on in college that will enable your children make the best of their time there. They are often overlooked in the midst of all of the excitement.
1. Start Off Strong: As a freshman, your child will more than likely be taking basic courses that are mandatory for all majors. These are the courses that will have the greatest impact on overall GPA. Something I was unfortunately not told until my junior year of college was that it is much easier to maintain a good GPA when you start off strong than it is to try to boost a low GPA as an upperclassman. Therefore, advise your child to not fool around in these basic courses; they have a much larger impact than one would think. Doing this will also allow your child to not be weighed down with stress in the last years of college when the coursework becomes harder.
2. Focus on the Education, Not Just the Degree: I will admit, there were nights that I did not get one minute of sleep the night before an exam due to procrastination. However, this is not a healthy or helpful study habit. Although this way of studying may get a good grade, it will not ensure that your child actually knows and understands the material in the future. Whether your child will need to know the material for a following class or for a future job, it is important to learn the material rather than simply memorize it periodically for exams. Not to mention, the more your child pays attention in class, the less time that needs to be spent studying when it’s time for exams.
3. Look for Internships in Your Field: Looking back, one thing I certainly wish I would have done sooner was look for an internship in my field. When looking for a job after college, I found very quickly that even most entry level positions require some degree of experience. For those few positions available that may not require prior experience, it surely can give your child an advantage over the other applicants to have internship experience. Not only will an internship look great on your child’s resume, gaining experience in the field your child is interested in can help determine whether this is the right career path or if it’s time to look in a different direction.
4. Get Involved: While making good grades is clearly an important part of college, considering good grades lead to good careers, remind your child to enjoy everything the college has to offer. Your child will hear this over and over again, but getting involved is the best way to make the most of the college experience. Therefore, advise your children to go to sporting events, join clubs, go to campus activities, anything that will get them out of the dorm rooms and involved on campus. This is the time for each student to embrace personal interests and join clubs that celebrate these interests.
5. Find the Group of Friends That Fits You: As freshmen, many students feel overwhelmed and a little lonely at a new school where they may not know anyone yet. However, something these young students do not realize is that every other freshman feels the same way. Therefore, make sure to remind your children to be friendly and put themselves out there. Once they find the group of friends that they feel comfortable in, every part of college—even studying—will be more enjoyable.