If you have kids who will be attending college, there is plenty of preparation for both you and your student. The transition can be scary, so it’s important to prepare ahead of time. Doing these things will help you and your child get ready and allow your child to learn from this experience.
Come Up with a Financial Plan
It’s important to plan for both large and small expenses. Many schools have activity fees and charge for parking or memberships. Some classes have fees, particularly if your student will need access to specific software. You’ll also want to factor in entertainment costs, including getting your child a car and paying for the associated expenses or helping them pay for public transportation. Of course, housing and tuition are the biggest expenses your child will face in college. The amount your child has saved will determine how much you may want to consider chipping in. However, if you currently own a home, you could use the equity from that to get a HELOC to help cover a portion of your education.
Be a Strong Example
You may feel the urge to take care of things for your child because you may feel you can do a better job or that you have more knowledge in a certain area. However, it’s a good idea to plan on giving them the support they need to make their own choices instead of doing everything for them. This helps them learn skills like organization, teamwork, and time management, which are important both during and after college. The remaining time in high school and the admissions process itself can help you and your child work together as a team. Learn the art of leading your child from behind. This means not rushing in to offer solutions but offering advice to gently guide them in the right direction.
Give Them Practical Life Skills
If your child doesn’t have the skills to live on their own without you, then everything from choosing a career to cleaning the bathroom is going to be a challenge. This is a great time to help them learn. They should know how to do housework, handle a budget, and cook for themselves. They should also know how to do their own laundry and mend their clothing. While they can learn these things after college has started, you don’t want your child to have to wait to learn them until they need them.
Stay on Track
If you are not hovering near your child every step of the way, it’s a good idea to make sure they are still staying on track. Know what needs to be done at what time and keep these tasks on a calendar. Every time something else is done, check that off from the calendar. You don’t need to remind your child of every deadline, but if they don’t seem to be preparing to meet a specific goal or deadline, you may want to gently remind them about it and see if they have a plan for completing that task.
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