New Year’s is often a time of new beginnings. For parents of high school students who may be headed off to college in the fall, this year will bring significant changes. You may, or may not, be prepared for those changes, but you know that they are still several months away. We’d like to offer some New Year’s resolutions to help you, and your college bound high school student, begin to prepare now. We hope that you find them helpful – and that you pass some of these on to your student.
For high school parents
1) Resolve that your student’s college choice, or the application process, or acceptance letters, will not be the first thing you talk about when you meet other parents.
2) Resolve that you will not ask your student what she has decided to major in. Try to steer others away from asking her as well. Encourage her to keep an open mind.
3) Resolve to begin practicing some important communication skills with your high school student. Remember that your role in his life will be changing next year. Try to listen more, keep open and honest lines of communication going. It won’t happen automatically next year if you’re not building the foundation this year.
4) Resolve to keep the college process in perspective. Getting into college – and deciding where to go to school – is important, but it is only one part of your student’s life this year. Remember that where your student goes to school is less important that what she does when she gets there. She will create her success wherever she ends up.
5) Resolve to model de-stressing about the college decision process for your student. Try to relax – especially while waiting for acceptance letters.
6) Resolve to let your student make the final college choice. Remember that your student is the one going off to college. He will be better able to adapt to difficult times if he is the one who made the final choice of college.
7) Resolve to read at least one book about the “letting go” process.
8) Resolve to accept the natural tendency of teenagers to begin the distancing process. Use this year as a time to begin to step back.
9) Resolve to begin the “letting go” process now. Buy your student a good alarm clock and don’t wake him up in the morning. Make sure she knows how to do her own laundry. Encourage him to be responsible for his own finances.
10) Resolve to remember that the college transition process happens to both your student and to you. Remember that you will be undergoing changes as well. Don’t forget to nurture yourself.
For high school students
1) Resolve that you will not let your guard down this spring and become a victim of senioritis. Remember that colleges will look at your final grades.
2) Resolve that once your applications are in you will relax and try not to worry about admissions. Focus on senior year and enjoying this time before you need to make a final decision.
3) Resolve to find somewhere to invest the energy and time you have now that the college application process is completed. Take up a new hobby. Do some community service.
4) Resolve to spend some time this spring investigating scholarships. There are many hidden ones available. Keep searching online and checking with your guidance office.
5) Resolve to meet all spring deadlines. File the FAFSA early. Watch scholarship deadlines. Make your college deposit and housing deposits on time.
6) Resolve to spend some time thinking about your life goals. You don’t need answers, and you certainly don’t need to plan your life, but think about your goals for college. Don’t just see it as a next step without knowing where you want it to take you and how you want to spend the next four years.
7) Resolve to talk to your parents. Remember they are nervous about you starting college too. Work at keeping lines of communication open. Let them know what you are thinking. Listen to some of their advice – whether or not you plan to take it.
8) Resolve to keep an open mind about where you go to school. What you do at college is going to be much more important than where you go to school. Remember that the final decision will need to be your decision, based on your feelings and goals. Don’t choose a school because someone else tells you that you should – or because someone you know is going there.
9) Resolve to begin to take on more responsibility in your life in preparation for being on your own next year. Prove to yourself and to your parents that you can be responsible and independent. Get yourself up in the morning, budget your money, clean up after yourself, keep your curfews and behave responsibly. Your parents will be more comfortable about you heading off next year.
10) Resolve to take some time to thank all of the people who helped you get where you are. Think about family members, friends, teachers, counselors, and others who may have gone out of their way to help you. Take time to let them know that you appreciate it.
This is a big year ahead for high school seniors and their parents. Start now to think about what you can do to make the transition to college a smooth and successful one.
Bonus: Parents – resolve to bookmark College Parent Central – or sign up for our RSS feed – to continue to get information and support as you navigate the next few exciting years. The more information that you have, the better armed you will be to help your student, and to feel more secure.
Happy New Year!