Five Essential Tools for your Teen’s Off-to-College “Toolbox”

By Huntington Learning Center

It’s almost here: your teen’s departure for college. When it comes to packing, he or she may be focused on dorm décor and clothes, but there are a number of other intangible items your teen will want to remember to bring along when he or she begins the college journey. Don’t forget these all-important tips and tools for the brand new college student:

List of college resources – Don’t let your teen lose track of that college directory and handbook at orientation. As he or she learns to be an independent adult, your student may need access to the support services and other resources on campus designed to make his or her college experience a good one. Be sure he or she knows how to get a hold of the academic advisor, faculty advisor (if assigned one yet), tutoring center and other resources. If your teen has a learning disability, he or she may want to have the phone number and location of the disability support services office available. Think ahead—what else might your student need? Where is the closest computer lab? How can he or she form a study group with students in his or her dorm or major?

Good study habits – Is your teen equipped with the study skills to succeed at college? If he or she is disorganized, now is the time to work on improving this skill. Other skills, such as problem-solving, goal-setting, persistence in achieving those goals, and focus are also so important. Off on his or her own for the first time, your teen will need to think critically, make decisions and learn from his or her mistakes.

Time management – Time management is arguably one of the most critical skills your teen will need to do well in college and in his or her career. At college, your student will have many choices on how to spend his or her time. Having the discipline and ability to prioritize all of the things in his or her life is crucial to your student’s academic success—and overall happiness. You can begin working on this before your student leaves for college by keeping a family calendar, encouraging your teen to maintain a planner, and spending a little time together each night to go over any assignments due the next day or within a week and talk about any projects further out on the horizon.

Financial basics – While it is less of an academic tip—but no less important—your teen must be financially responsible and savvy enough to take care of him or herself. Can he or she balance a checkbook? Have you equipped him or her with the “street smarts” to know not to max out a credit card or disregard bill due dates? If your student is paying for some of his or her education, be sure he knows how to access resources such as the financial aid office, too.

An understanding of work-school balance – College is an exciting journey for your student, and he or she should stay focused on the pursuit of his or her education. However, while your student should work hard in school, there is more to college than studying, and it is healthy to seek balance. By encouraging your student to lead a well-balanced life in high school—making time for school, family, friends and any other priorities (volunteering, work, activities or other hobbies)—you’ll also be helping to set the foundation for a successful college experience.