Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teens and College: Is Your Teen Ready?

Guest Blogger, Brian Jenkins, asked me to share this fantastic post with my readers.  As many parents of seniors and juniors that are looking at colleges, this is a great intro to helping them get a head-start.

The Challenge of Preparing Kids for College

The choices made by tweens and teens in middle and high school can have major impacts on the rest of their lives. That’s why many parents begin talking with their kids about going to college when they enter sixth grade.

It is definitely a wise idea for parents to explain the importance of education to their children that. By starting the conversation early, kids will think of going to college as a given part of their futures. Parents can talk to their kids about interesting jobs that pay well and require a college education. Taking kids to visit college campuses can inspire them to attend college, and it makes college appear to be more tangible. Parents can inform their kids that students enjoy college life and it’s something to look forward to.

Think College Early, a website developed by the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to help middle school students understand the importance of preparing for college before they enter high school.

Academic Preparation
Academic preparation for college starts in middle school. Research has shown that kids who take algebra and geometry by the end of the eighth and ninth grades are much more likely to attend college that those who do not. A nation-wide sample indicates that only 26 percent of students from low-income families who did not take geometry attended college; however, 71 percent of students from low-income families who took geometry went to college.

Students who take algebra early in middle school have the opportunity to enroll in chemistry, trigonometry, and physics in high school. Parents should also encourage their teenagers to take Advanced Placement courses. Besides good grades, parents should consider continued hard work, effort, and improvement among their child’s successes.

College Students and Alcohol
Alcohol is an important topic for discussion with teenagers before they enter college. Excessive use of alcohol can be a major problem for college students. David Fassler, MD, states that “Because of the way their brains are wired, college students are more susceptible to overuse of drugs and alcohol, which can lead to extremely serious problems.” Alcohol use can affect performance in school, not to mention the more tragic consequences with which we are all too familiar.

Overly Structured Parenting
A study indicates that college-educated mothers in the United States are becoming preoccupied with preparing their kids for elite college admissions. According to University of California-San Diego economists Gary and Valerie Ramey, mothers have dramatically increased the amount of time they spend taking their kids to organized activities. Kids’ schedules are packed with arts, sports, and additional classes. Parents have to be careful not to exhaust their children with too many extra curricular activities. College bound students often don’t get enough sleep due to all the studying and extra curricular programs in which they are involved.

Some parents unwittingly add too much pressure to the lives of their teenagers. The college admissions process is increasingly competitive, however there has to be a balance between preparing for college and enjoying one’s high school years. Overly structured parenting can have a negative impact if students get burnt out.

Parents of college bound students should make sure their children take the appropriate classes, even before they enter high school. Additionally, the importance of a college education should be communicated to students at a young age. Overly structured parenting should be avoided, however, and parents should also convey to their tweens and teens that having fun is also part of attending middle school and high school.
Brian Jenkins has been writing for BrainTrack since 2008. He writes about career and education topics, including information about setting career goals.

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