How To Prepare Your Child For College Life

How To Prepare Your Child For College Life with Dr. Kristin Austin, gives tips for getting your child college-ready beyond academics. Watch Video by clicking the above photo or read the transcript below.

Transcript for How To Prepare Your Child For College Life:

Kristina: Welcome impactful parent! Today we’re going to talk about how to prepare your child for college responsibilities. I have a special guest, Dr. Kristen Austin, to talk to today. Dr. Austin is the co-author of a new book called College Ready 2021. This great book is all about getting your kids prepared to leave the nest and be successful in college! Thank you for being here, Dr. Austin.

My first question is, what is my role as a parent is trying to get my child to transition? Where do we begin in preparing our kids for college? Many parents do a lot for their children. They don’t realize that they are actually doing a disservice to their child by doing too much.  On the other hand, our kids don’t know to ask for certain skills because, well, frankly, you don’t know what you don’t know. Then they get to college, and the child realizes they lack skill or knowledge of some kind. That leads to the child calling home and asking mom and dad for help.  But the goal is for our kids to be successful young adults without the parents holding their hand.  Where do we begin in this journey?

Dr. Austin:  Such a great question, and it’s really a position that every parent finds themselves in.

How To Prepare Your Child For College Life

How To Prepare Your Child For College Life

The first thing you do is, expect that nothing is going to go perfectly. It is sort of like preparing for a camping trip. Even if you’ve been doing this over and over and over again, you still always forget something. I often encourage families to remember that no matter what, It’s okay to forget something or for there to be a gap in a skill set. It won’t be a perfect process. The College Ready 2021 book, chapter eight, lines these areas out very clearly. First, talk with your child about some personal safety issues. Finding out if students can have protective devices on their campus like mace.  It is very important to find out what’s allowed at that campus. Then go over some basic cooking, hygiene, use kitchen appliances, and what kind of things will be allowed in the residence hall. As a heads up, usually, Keurigs are allowed. Talk to your child about some basic skills like car maintenance and how to drive in weather conditions that your child might not be used to.

Kristina: So would you say that chapter eight, the one you co-authored in this book, is more life skill-based skills?

Dr. Austin: One of the best parts of this book is that it covers everything. Chapter eight is everything from life skills to understanding diversity and inclusion amongst new peer interactions. That’s not necessarily a skill, but it’s an important part of your child’s adjustment to college life.  Most students have never lived in a community setting before. With that comes some inherent diversity they may not have previously been exposed to.

Several chapters talk about actual academic transitions and adjustments as well. College Ready 2021 has a little bit of everything!

Kristina: What happens if I miss something as a parent?

Dr. Austin: It will happen! Don’t worry!  Most of what your child might need can be bought on Amazon. Also, you can typically direct your student to the resource on campus for help.  That’s what you want to be doing! You want to investigate what resources are on campus to help your student become attached to the campus resources. Ideally, we want the parent to start stepping back and the university to start helping the child. We don’t expect the students to go straight to the different university resources right away. They’re still going to call home because you are their safe place, and you are their place of trust, but we want the parent to encourage independence. We want parents to say, “This is the resource at your school that I want to point you toward for help.”

Kristina: That sounds great, Dr. Austin, but I know that there are many kids out there who will be frustrated with their parents. Kids will be saying, “Just tell me! Just help me!” Many kids want the solution to their problems to show up on their doorstep. It is going to be a very, very emotionally painful learning curve.

How To Prepare Your Child For College Life

How To Prepare Your Child For College Life

Dr. Austin: I understand. You’re right, but parents have to build autonomy skills and direct them to others at some point. That’s when the big B word comes into play, Boundaries. Parents want to build a network of people that will help their students turn in other directions for help.  Boundaries are so important. It won’t be easy to stop enabling your child and stop doing everything for them (or stop bailing them out of trouble). Still, at some point, your child needs to learn how to deal with life’s difficulties on their own.

I often have parents reflect on times where they empowered their child to make a difficult choice. I find that once you force a parent to think about a time when they’ve already done this, where they’ve pushed the student toward independence, they feel better. They realize that they can do this and do it again!  It really is a boundary issue. But parents, you can do hard things. Your child will be much better off because you didn’t enable the child and build bad habits.  We don’t want these kids to get their first big job and still call their mom or dad for help, asking if they will call their boss and tell them that they can’t make it into work today. So, boundaries, boundaries, boundaries!

Kristina: Oh, parents! It’s going to hurt deep down inside, but this is the best thing to help your child become a more independent adult in the long run.

My next question is, how do I know when it’s time to intervene? I understand that I don’t want to enable my child and do too much for them, but I also don’t want to abandon them when they really might need me. There are times when a parent should step in.  When are those times?

Dr. Austin: Yes, there are circumstances where parental involvement is critical. The first is for those students that have IEP or 504 plan. These educational plans can be very complex. The student may not yet fully grasp all of the accommodations they’re entitled to. I interact with many college students who say, “I didn’t know I was receiving an accommodation. I thought this was just part of my education.” Then, when they get to college, they don’t know to advocate for extended test-taking time or other accommodations. They think that these accommodations are going to automatically happen. So for students that have disabilities or learning challenges, I definitely recommend parental involvement until you can teach the self-advocacy skills they need to fully understand their disability and accommodations.

Another time when parents need to get involved, it is important for students with chronic and potentially debilitating health conditions. Many kids don’t understand the full extent of the medication they are taking. They know it is a green pill, but they don’t know where to get their medications refilled and even their medications. I’ve had instances where students have epilepsy medicine and didn’t know which one they needed to take because the child is so used to these things being done for them. It is important to teach your child to understand their illness or disability in the collegiate setting because understanding it at home differs from understanding in the academic environment.

How To Prepare Your Child For College Life

How To Prepare Your Child For College Life

And the last thing I’ll quickly say is when parents should be more involved rather than less when the student has a marginalized identity. For example, students of color often attend a predominantly white institution and experience elevated feelings of disconnect in the collegiate setting.  Therefore, the familiarity of the family and the connection to home can really help support their transition.

Kristina: I want to remind parents that each one of those categories mentioned has a resource on campus to help your child. Help your child find the department for learning challenges, the pharmacy on campus, etcetera.

I am really excited to read College Ready 2021. Can you tell us how do we get a hold of this book?

Dr. Austin: Yes! College Ready 2021 is a quick read. It is very tangible and has very digestible topics that are specific to the 2021 transition. You can purchase it on Amazon, as well as anywhere else books are sold. It is edited by Chelsea Petri, and the publishing company is Wise Action. Every chapter has checklists for the reader too! It’s great.

Kristina: Thank you, Dr. Austin, for being here today.

And the audience makes sure that you get MY FREE PDF, 50 Skills To Teach Your Child Before They Leave Home. These 50 skills are a great checklist of activities you can do this summer with your high school student to become proficient and independent young adults. You can find that at Couple the free PDF with College Ready 2021, and you’re going to have a very successful young adult!

Thanks for being here, parents.  Until next time, you got this. I am just here to help.

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