College may be many years away… or it may be just around the corner. Whether your kids are 6 or 16, it is important that you prepare them for college long before the time comes for them to attend. For many children going to college is a rite of passage. For others it is an unknown, a world of mystery. You never know, your child may not even be sure if they want to attend college to begin with. You’ll never know if you don’t take the time to sit down and talk with your kids about college. While you are doing this, you should also consider participating in 5 steps that will help prepare your kids for college long before that first monumental day.
Step 1: Communicate with your child about their goals and dreams. You have to keep the lines of communication open at all times. If you never talk to your child about what they want to do later in life, you won’t have a sense of what their goals, dreams and aspirations are. If on the other hand you regularly engage your children in conversations about education and their future, you’ll learn early on the types of studies that might interest them and can help them make important decisions about their college career when the time comes.
Step 2: Stay involved in education. You have to be involved in your child’s education from day one. It’s not enough to take an active interest their first day of college. Ask them how they are doing in school regularly, talk with them about the classes they like and the ones they are struggling with. They will be more likely to lean on you for support during their college years.
Step 3: Encourage your children to explore new things and subjects early. Don’t wait until they are about to head off to college to encourage them to try new things. Start when they are young. Expose them to different subjects, music, sports and other creative activities so they have a chance to experience as much of the world as possible before they make the giant leap to college.
Step 4: Don’t push. You should be available for your children when they have questions about college or pursuing a career, but you shouldn’t be overly aggressive about pushing them toward attending or even going to a particularl school. Why? Your efforts may actually backfire and you may find that your teenager decides to forgo an education all together, not because they aren’t interested, but because they want to defy your strict orders.
Step 5: Teach your child to start saving early. College is expensive. As time goes on your child may find themselves spinning a wheel of deeper and deeper debt. Teach them to be financially responsible early on by helping them set up a savings account. It doesn’t have to be for school or college only, but it will help teach them the value of saving a dollar. While you are at it, save some money too. Preparing your children for college is a big step, but a worthy one. Your children will thank you one day for taking time out of your schedule to help them through their college years.