Every year at this time high school seniors await news from college admissions departments. Parents are almost as worried as their children after the months, sometimes years, of college preparatory activities. Focusing on the academic demands and extracurricular activities that appeal to college admission departments may cause parents to avoid looking at their child’s readiness to navigate the college experience successfully.
According to the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, the six-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2007 was 59 percent. That is, 59 percent of first-time, full-time students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2007 completed the degree at that institution by 2013.
There are a myriad of reasons for the low completion rate, but lack of readiness for college ranks high as a reason for non-completion. Assessing readiness is not an exact science but the following questions are a good guideline for discussion:
- Do they wake up with their own alarm system?
- Do they understand the benefits of a well-balanced life: sleeping, eating and relaxing?
- Do they meet their current school obligations in a timely fashion?
- Are they able to navigate stress, pain and disappointment without having events derail them?
- Do they accept responsibility for their actions and not blame others for their mistakes?
- Do they understand that all behavior has consequences – both good and bad?
- Are they able to talk about uncomfortable feelings?
- Do they have the experience and self-discipline to live within a budget?
- Are they able to organize and breakdown tasks in order to complete them?
- Do they have the capacity to ask for and accept advice?
- Do they have a healthy perspective/history with substances such as alcohol, marijuana and other drugs?
While most high school seniors have mixed responses to these questions, a no answer to all of the questions may raise red flags about a student’s readiness.
Other reasons to delay admission or readmission to college include recent treatments for drug/alcohol and eating disorder issues. College campuses are rife with substances, and many programs do not have supportive sober housing, which may be a recipe for relapse.
Readiness work isn’t all on the shoulders of the student. Parents also need to do some preparation. Allowing our children to fail or fall down and experience the consequences of their actions is important for their growth, and it is important for us to observe their capacity to navigate a difficult time. Some simple guidelines for parents include:
- Let them wake on their own without prompting from you.
- Not leaping in to fix every time your child experiences difficulty
- Set realistic communication levels – if you are used to talking to your child several times a day you may want to begin carving out set times to talk so the pattern is established
- Require them to live within a budget
- Let them prepare a meal occasionally
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