Parents Should Help High School Grads Develop an Initial Plan For College

Have you and your new graduate developed a plan for the freshman year of college? Creating an effective plan of action for the start of college requires input from parents and students working together. Involved parents can begin to shape the future of their children by helping them develop an effective plan for college.

Since most students head off to college with no plan at all, those who take the time to figure out how they plan to get started will have an immediate advantage. When the steps are anticipated, the results are improved.

To get started off on the right foot, think about three questions:

A. What does it take to generate a workable plan of action for the freshman year?

1. A good relationship between the parent(s) and the student.

2. An agreed upon direction.

3. A degree of flexibility for all involved.

B. What should the parent and student team include in their plan? Think about your goals and include the steps that will get you there.

1. Is the student prepared to select a major now or will he/she explore options by taking classes in areas of interest? Does the college allow/support exploration?

2. Select classes that support the major or help with exploration. Ask upper class students about professors and class requirements.

3. Explore the campus itself via computer and by personal investigation. Find out where every resource is located. Visit the student's adviser.

4. Students should put forth a special effort to make friends. (Dorms, Classes, Library, Cafeteria, Clubs, Activities, Sports, Work, Campus Events etc.)

5. Determine what college clubs, organizations and activities support the student's direction and goals.

6. Identify off-campus organizations and activities that support the direction and goals.

7. Participation is a key to success. Students don't become successful by remaining in their dorm rooms. Each student should try to participate in something where they can make a contribution.

8. Consider the options with regard to work. Students can work on-campus or off-campus. Investigate part-time work in your field of interest.

9. Take a look at possible community service activities. What services, causes and community needs are important to the student?

10. Study habits and academic achievement should be discussed. A CUM below 2.7 on a 4 point scale will not help all that much. A "B" average or better is expected by the most sought after employers and graduate schools. Many look for candidates with an average well above a 3.0.

11. Who are the most influential people on campus and in your field?

12. End up with a simple, realistic plan that students and parents can live with.

C. What else should parents do for students?

1. Discuss past successes and failures. But, try to spend 95% of the time on the positives. Be prepared to offer encouragement and suggest alternatives.

2. Encourage students to make most of their own decisions. Generally, your job is to offer advice and guidance, not make decisions for them. Recognize that some mistakes are inevitable. Expect them. Be prepared to address them.

3. Always be happy to talk with the student about anything that concerns them.

4. Show your support for the student. Be a good listener.

5. Stay out of most campus problems. Do not talk to a professor about an assignment, grade or something similar. That is not our role. Students must learn to handle things like that on their own.

6. Recognize that your children are not you. They will have their own needs, wants, goals and ways of doing things.

Parents and students should be looking to the future, so they can create a simple plan with a few important steps that will support their goals. In that way, parents agree on the steps, track the progress, offer support and encouragement and celebrate the milestones that are achieved. The best plans allow for changes, as the student learns more about their interests and abilities.

When parents and students work together and are in agreement, the chances of success are greatly improved and their relationship will be strengthened.

Visit Bob's web site: Bob Roth is the author of The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College -and- The College Student's Guide To Landing A Great Job.