Students walking to university building

Prepared for College

The academics, the testing, the applications…the process of preparing for college throws first-time students (and their parents) into a huge new world. Beyond the paperwork, there are other considerations we do not want to overlook. A successful college experience involves adult responsibilities with finances, relationships and time management. While those are all skills your student has been developing over the years, some advance planning may be just the ‘heads up’ needed to avoid difficulties.


College potentially brings along significant debt. Understanding the implications of a lackadaisical approach to studies, frivolous use of grant monies or simple carelessness is difficult for some youth to grasp. Compound the issue with the bombardment of credit card companies that market to college-age youth and a serious problem can result. Student loans can seem so distant to students that they wipe them out of their mind. Teaching the basics of budgeting (i.e. car insurance, licensing fees, food, recreation, tithing) are fundamental to grasping how one ‘little’ extra payment requires eliminating something else. Looking at a budget in black and white, handling a checking account and practicing tithing and saving are keys to financial responsibility.


Beyond the romantic relationship issue–which would be a topic in and of itself–there are room-mate issues, landlord, professor and employer connections that may be entirely new to your college-age student. Whereas most all previous contacts will have been predicated upon existing relationships of caring and commitment, these are ‘simple’ get along and show respect relationships. Learning to choose battles and to battle with respectful restraint are challenging skills. Standing strong, accepting limitations of oneself and others can create some strong winds. Discuss the topics with your youth and stay attentive to stresses as the college adventure progresses.

Time Management

We all have the same number of hours in a day. Learning to treasure time, set priorities and establish necessary time boundaries is a lifetime process. Our lives continually change, requiring new schedules and new disciplines. College abounds with opportunities for doing exciting new activities–but responsibilities increase at the same time. Healthy living involves establishing the right personal priorities for rest and relaxation–without self-indulgent excess. Most of us make some mistakes in the process. Your teen will as well. Hopefully your student has had opportunity to establish a schedule, set goals and pace themselves in meeting goals. If not, do not delay. Give your student the freedom to fail, to struggle with a bit of fatigue and help them set their personal boundaries. Encourage effort and achievement.