Children are told to go to college. Teens are told to go to college. Once they arrive on-campus, they believe that they have “made it” and all they have to do is… go to college. It is amazing how in our best efforts, we make the biggest mistakes. What does that mean? In our best efforts (motivating our youth to go to college), we make the biggest mistakes (not telling them all that is required to achieve while receiving and/or after receiving the degree). I challenge you today, to change the way that you communicate with the young people that you encourage to go to college.
What good is a four-year degree if you do not know how to read, follow directions, write, speak publicly, apply for a job, find an internship, ask for help when you need it, take initiative, or be proactive? What good is a four-year degree if you do not know how to dress professionally, network, budget, deal with difficult personalities, resolve conflicts, complete paperwork, fill out a FAFSA, comprehend, ask questions, think critically, document, hold people accountable, manage your time, or stay motivated when all around you seems to be falling apart? Absolutely nothing!!! The things that I have mentioned are skills that are necessary for young people to be successful while they are in college.
Look at it like this…you want your teen to go to North Carolina because everyone says that it is beautiful and a growing state with tons of opportunities!! Maybe you have never been, but you want your child to have the best opportunity in life and EVERYBODY says that it is the best place to go; therefore, you encourage them to move to North Carolina. Senior year is here and your child is on the way to North Carolina! They have an apartment, a car, and the grocery store (that they have been working at since their freshman year in high school) has allowed them to transfer their job. In your mind, they have it all together right? Wrong! Do they know how to renew a lease? How do they relocate in the future, without your assistance? Who will teach them how to manage money? What do they know about contracts? How should they deal with rude neighbors or bad landlords? How do they enroll into a school? Can they read a map? What should they do if they make a wrong turn?
What I have found is that some of the things that we forget to discuss are the most important pieces of the experience. I know that it is not done intentionally, but acknowledge that it happens. Once you acknowledge it, you can change it. The next time that you discuss college, just remember this blog. Talk about the things that will help your child become a better student and increase the chances of success.