College Planning Checklist - For Very Young Children
I’m often asked what parents of young children can do to help their kids be ready for college. While most of my writing is for high schoolers and their parents, I do have a suggestion or two to contribute to that discussion.
In my mind, the most important thing you can do toward this end is to make college a part of their life, one of your expectations, and something they learn about, talk about and hear about throughout their young life. When it’s summer they will go swimming, when it’s Halloween they will go trick-or-treating, and when they’re finished with high school they will go to college. As the parent, you can make it that way.
I call that college ideation, and I think it is critical to a person’s success in college. (I can’t claim to be the originator of that term. I remember reading it once when I was in graduate school, but have been unable to find it again to reference where I found it and whose concept it really is.) What I’m talking about, though, is a person being able to imagine themselves at college, being successful. It is particularly important to those who are first-generation college students or those with little support for higher education within their immediate family, but also applies more broadly to most everyone. If a person cannot imaging themselves walking across a college campus, sitting in a class, studying, and being successful in college, it will be very difficult for them to actually do it. By what you do, how you talk about college, and the way you expose your child to the world of jobs and careers, and to the life of a truly educated, involved citizen, you can affect their future success. Limiting your discussions to college as simply job training is too simplistic and ignores one of the most important aims of higher education – broadly educating individuals and making their contributions to society more meaningful.
In much the same way as a child imagines themselves as a professional baseball player hitting a game-winning homerun, or a lawyer imagines a perfect summation before a jury, or an Olympic sprinter uses imagery to prepare for their event… if you can’t imagine yourself doing it, there’s a good chance you can’t do it. Practicing and imagining yourself doing something successfully, is an important part of preparation for many facets of life. College is no different.
What you need to do is just make college a part of life. As parents, we often talk to our children about what they’ll do next. For example, “When you get bigger, you’ll go to school like your big brother” or “Next year, in middle school, you’ll have a lot of different teachers, each one teaching a different subject.” or “This year you hit the ball off of a tee, but next year one of your coaches will pitch to you”. It seems like we don’t always talk about college in the same way, sometimes making it an “if” rather than a “when”. By making college one of the steps in life that they are expected to do, you increase the likelihood that they’ll do it. I don’t mean that not going to college is unacceptable, or that it is the only path to success in life. But I do think it’s a part of having high standards and expectations for your child and their future.
How do you do it, you ask? Here are a few ideas:
Back to College Planning Checklists List
Back to Articles List
Occupational Outlook Handbook
How to Get Into College
Financial Aid Torrance CA
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
Tips for Beginning your College Career