Using Senior Year to Prepare for Success in College: Nine Skills Your Student Needs to Polish

Senior year is a stressful and tricky year for high school students. They face the final stages of the college application process, then the w-a-i-t-i-n-g that seems interminable, and there’s the final decision to be made.  All the while, students are told to keep their grades up so colleges won’t change their mind and so students will be ready for the academic work of college.

But if your senior wants to be successful in college, there’s more work to be done than meets the eye – and many students and their parents may not realize all that they should be doing.  Academic preparation is essential, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Many students come to college well prepared academically yet they struggle through the first year, not because the coursework is too hard, but because they suddenly need to cope with all of life.  They may have taken for granted all that is involved in managing their day-to-day life; never considered, or never mastered those skills.

How do parents fit in?

Many high schools don’t address the life skills that student need to succeed.  Parents can help students use the senior year to learn to manage their lives well – leaving them energy and time to focus on their academic work.  It’s a gradual process, of course.  Don’t present your student with a list at the beginning of senior year – remember that he’s probably already feeling overwhelmed.  But slip some of these skills in as the year goes along – and then take time at the end of the year to remind your student how prepared he now is to manage not only his schoolwork, but himself.

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How College Parents Can Help Their Student Avoid Sophomore Slump

College administrators, faculty, and parents place a lot of emphasis on the transition to college and the first-year experience.  We all know that these new college students, and their parents, will be undergoing a tremendous change in their lives as they enter the world of college.  Colleges run orientation programs, offer special classes and seminars for first-year students, communicate with these new students with encouragement and reminders, and often have a “let it go” attitude when new students make mistakes or miss deadlines.

Once students complete that tumultuous first year of college, they face sophomore year and the changes that it brings.  Our sophomore students need just as much support from home, even though that need may be less obvious. As college parents, we can help our sophomore students realize that the concept of sophomore slump really does exist.

What is sophomore slump?

Sophomore slump refers to the phenomenon in which a second effort fails to live up to the quality of a first effort.  The term is also used in sports (for second year players) and in music (for second recordings by an artist).  At college, students in their second, or sophomore, year often experience both a let-down and a decrease in their grades.  If the word sophomore means “wise fool,” it is an accurate description of how many second year students feel: they aren’t sure whether they feel wise or foolish at any given moment.

Why does sophomore slump happen?

There are several things that occur during the second year of college that can contribute to the slump that sophomores may encounter.  These are especially troubling if your student is unprepared for the differences during this year of college.  Parents and students need to understand the ways in which this year is different from that first year of college.

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