Attending university is a significant milestone in both a child and parent’s life. It marks the beginning of their journey towards independence, self-discovery, and academic growth. As a child prepares to embark on this exciting chapter, it's essential to provide them with the necessary tools and support to make their transition to university life smooth and successful.
This article will outline some valuable strategies and tips on how to prepare for college and university as a homeschooling family.
The Importance of Preparing for College and University
Homeschooling offers a unique and personalised educational experience, allowing children to learn in a flexible environment tailored to their individual needs. However, it’s important to recognise that transitioning from a homeschooling environment to a college or university is a big shift.
Depending on whether a child is attending university locally or internationally, there is a strong chance that they’ll be living independently for the first time. They’ll have to buy and cook their own groceries and meals, create their own schedules, attend lectures, and more.
Ultimately,they are venturing into a new chapter of adulthood.
It’s, therefore, important to prepare a child for this transition so that it may run smoothly and they may thrive in their new environment.
How to Prepare for College in High School
There are a multitude of areas to focus on when preparing for the college experience. From ensuring that a child will be able to attend the college or univesity of their choosing, to thriving in this new, vibrant environment.
Focus on Academic Performance
Before applying to college and university, it’s important for a child to know what they want to study. This will help them identify the best colleges and universities for their chosen study path.
Once a list has been compiled of the best colleges and universities for a specific field, it’s important to research what their entry requirements are. This will serve as a guide to which subjects to take in high school and what grades a child needs to achieve in order to get into those universities and programmes.
Once this has been determined, it’s important for a child to work towards those grades. During this time, it’s important to prioritise learning how to plan properly, adopt healthy study habits, and manage time effectively. A strong academic foundation will set a child up for success in higher education.
Cultivate Extracurricular Activities in High School
Participating in extracurricular activities at university can enhance the overall experience and provide valuable opportunities for personal growth. It’ll also allow help to forge friendships and bonds at university.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to cultivate extracurricular activities in high school, so that they may join a team, club, or group as soon as they arrive at university. This will also encourage them to have a balanced lifestyle at college that encompasses more than studying and attending parties.
Have Conversations About College and University Life
Long before a child begins their university journey, conversations about higher education should be initiated.
It’s important to explore interests, potential career paths, what is expected at university, what life will be like, the benefits of attending university or college, what socialisation will be like, what life skills will be required, and more.
These early discussions will plant the seed of motivation and ambition, guiding children towards their academic and life goals.
Visit College and University Campuses
Once a child’s preferred colleges and universities have been narrowed down. Attend open houses, tours, and information sessions together to help them make informed decisions about their future institution. This will allow both children and parents to get a feel for these institutions and determine whether their culture matches a child’s personality and preferences.
This will also allow children to familiarise themselves with the environment, which will make the transition easier when the time comes. Ultimately, this will alleviate some of the anxiety that is often experienced due to this change and the next step in their educational journey.
Emphasise Mental and Physical Wellbeing
University life can be both exciting and overwhelming, which may impact a child's mental and physical health. Therefore, it’s important to prioritise self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and managing stress.
It can be helpful to have discussions about the importance of seeking help if and when challenges are encountered. Whether academic, personal, or emotional there will be situations that are challenging. This can be daunting when a child is living on their own and does not have the natural support system that a family provides when living at home.
It’s important to understand that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Foster Self-Reliance and Responsibility
University life demands a higher level of independence than high school. Therefore, each child should be prepared to take on this responsibility. Some of the areas to focus on before leaving for college and university include essential life skills, such as managing finances, doing laundry, basic cooking, and time management.
This starts with taking responsibility at home while completing high school. There should be a level of daily tasks and decisions that should be made by high school children. This will encourage the confidence and self-reliance that is required when they leave the nest.
Focus on Communication Skills Training
Effective communication is crucial in all aspects of university life, from interacting with professors to forming new friendships. It’s, therefore, important to learn how to communicate effectively. Part of communication includes conflict resolution, expressing emotions, active listening, non-verbal communication, and more.
Mastering these aspects of effective communication can lead to improved relationships, increased productivity, and enhanced collaboration at university.
It’s never too early to start developing communication skills and young children can start with social and emotional learning courses.
Emphasise Teaching Financial Literacy
University often involves managing finances independently. Therefore, focus should be put on teaching and learning the basics of budgeting, handling credit responsibly, and the importance of living within their means.
This can be done by discussing the costs associated with university life and exploring options for financial aid and scholarships together as a family. It can also be useful for parents to share how they manage their finances, as this should present a good example of what to do.
By addressing all of these aspects and focusing on the independence and confidence required in university, children should be prepared to begin this new and exciting chapter in their lives.