Tricounty News

Help grads understand what lies ahead



With graduation on the horizon, many high school seniors are anxiously anticipating their exodus from Mom and Dad's house to the less restrictive dorms of their colleges of choice. Visions of parties, late school nights spent hanging out with friends, and no Mom and Dad to check in on them populate the dreams of many a high school senior as graduation draws closer and closer. But as exciting as beginning college can be, it can also prove difficult in a number of ways if soon-to-be freshmen aren't prepared for what may lie ahead. Parents and college-bound kids alike should discuss the following topics before parting ways this fall.

Finances

It seems that no matter how much money kids head off to college with, it's never enough. This is especially true of entering freshmen, who have more than likely never faced living on a budget before. If a student will not be working and their parents will be sending them money during the semester, it's best to work out a payment schedule (once per semester, once per month, bi-monthly, etc.) and stick to it. Parents should avoid the temptation of bailing kids out if they've spent their allotted money too quickly, just like students should avoid the temptation of spending the money too fast.

Parents should also discuss credit cards with their children before the kids head off to school. College campuses are notorious breeding grounds for credit card solicitation. Kids who don't fully understand the concept of credit can, and often do, find themselves in deep financial trouble because of credit cards. If a student has his or her own cell phone (and who doesn't these days?), let your son or daughter begin paying for it in the months before he leaves for college. This should help get him or her acclimated to paying bills, and the importance of paying them on time, before heading off to school.

Academics

Understandably, most students start off struggling in the academic department. This often has nothing to do with the course load. Instead, it's typically the product of students being overwhelmed by their newfound freedom, resulting in studies sliding down their priority list.

Incoming freshmen should recognize that, while struggling to adapt to a new course load and new environment is to be expected, it's not an excuse for a prolonged academic struggle. The point of going to college is an education first and foremost. GoCollege.com, an online resource for college-bound students, recommends developing a diligent and consistent system of study habits to avoid digging an early academic hole. This can involve study groups, brief study periods after each class to make sure you understand all materials, or a number of things that might work for each individual. But the main thing is to be consistent in your study approach, as once you get it down, you'll be more efficient and able to enjoy more of that enticing free time.

Social life

While education is the most important thing about college, developing socially is important as well. For some students, overfocusing on academics can make college a difficult period in their life. Particularly for entering freshmen, developing friendships is an important step in adapting to college. Students should embrace the chance to meet new people, many of whom might be from different parts of the country or even the world, which can be an educational process in and of itself.

While social life should never take precedence over academics, balancing work and play is something students will have to do the rest of their lives, and part of college is preparing them to do just that. Parents should make students aware that academics are important, but that developing as a human being and not just as a student is important as well.

For more tips on preparing for college, visit www.gocollege.com.

Metro Editorial Services