How do I prepare my child for college?
College is more than just books and class. There are many challenges your child will face when they go off to college. How do you get them ready?
Make them wash their own clothes and teach them to cook from basics! A student cook book is a really good idea. Make them budget from a young age. It's not just pocket money - it's financial planning. My eldest had pocket money from the age of 4 and we had a rule that he could have anything he wanted if he had the money for it, but when the money was gone he had to wait till next pocket money day. He had a few occasions early on where he'd spent up then wanted something but we always stuck to the rule and he soon learned! His younger brothers also had the same and now at 21, 19 and 17 each is really good with money and budgeting.( I think the youngest has more money than me!) They've been taught to be independent from an early age too, use the bus, bike or walk to school and can plan journeys easily. I'm very proud of the way the older two settled into university, the transition from home was easy for them - which made it easy for me too, knowing that I'd done a good job of creating an independent citizen.
Alison definitely said it well. I would also add that you also have to allow them to make mistakes. Teach them to talk to adults and to fix their own problems. At school, don't jump in immediately and solve all of their problems. If they are having an "issue" with a teacher, make them try to resolve it first. If they are not able to come to an understanding with the teacher on their own, then you can step in. I made my children do that from about 5th grade on and it makes a big difference. Once your child goes to college you can not call the school and fight their battles for them (nor should you) so they need to learn to problem solve when you can step in and give them a hand IF they need it. This builds their self esteem when they are able to resolve conflicts with adults on their own.
Start early. Give them chores. Let them make mistakes as they grow. Love them, guide them, trust them, and when they reach 18, they will act like adults. Also see Allison Williams answer. She said it well.
I agree with Allison. My youngest just graduated from high school, and he's not quite ready to be that independent yet. My inconsistency shows, as does my allowing the older siblings to care for "the baby" in this case. My two older daughters are doing well, and my oldest just started his own family. I have to say this: Teach your child(ren) how to be good roommates, and they will do well in college. Common courtesy, such as picking up after themselves, cleaning the kitchen when they use it, learning to use it, and doing their own laundry are REALLY important. When my children reached the ages where all were tall enough to load the top-loading washing machine, I lifted the lid and asked them to read it. "Mom, that's really simple," they said. I grinned and said, "Yes! And if you can follow these directions, you can do your own laundry." They didn't like that at first, but they really appreciate it now. Everyone takes one or two nights a week where they cook for the family, while they live at home. It's working pretty well, and they're building confidence to be on their own.
Make sure they know how to study. University is a lot harder than high school.
Something that helped me was setting up an appointment with the school counselor, and I went over where she stood today and where she needed to be in a few years.