When I think of how I went to college, graduated, and did it 2 more times after that (with kids), I am reminded that no one else in my immediate family or circle had done that before. See, I grew up poor in small town Louisiana. And, I loved it. Black top roads, playing red light green light at night, everyone smiled at each other in passing, good food galore, etc. The focus was on family and survival and that we did.
College was something other people did to my family. I knew what it was. I expected it of myself. However, I didn’t know how I would get there, but I knew I would. I focused on my grades, and I asked questions of my guidance counselor. I had girlfriends that had gone on two years before me and so I got most of my information from them. I went through the process and got a scholarship and a grant. I made it in!
Taking advantage of my education got me there.
Not having a family with means, got me a whole lot of loans the second and third time around. So, my cautionary tale is to get all the money you can based on all that hard word you’ve put in.
I have a simple answer. If you didn’t go to college, but want your kids to, that’s awesome. If you went but still want to know extra information, great. No one is exempt here, and all of us can learn on this journey from each other.
What I have been doing since my boys were younger is talking to them about the real world. Yes, as a single mom, I have talked to my boys straight- no chaser because they need to know what I can do for them and what I cannot. The truth right now is I need them to help finance their education. Now, I want to subsidize it a great bit, but I need them to help in the form of scholarships and working (if need be).
But, before we have that deep a talk (they are just 13 and 15), I need to consult my College Planning Worksheet KL. So, my plan is to talk to them (again) about their goals and dreams. Have this handy and let them write on it. I also have a part to write and so do you!
When we do this activity with our kids, as parents we get a chance to listen and let them tell us stuff they normally wouldn’t. When you do this don’t interrupt, just listen. Let them wax old about their dreams. It’s good to dream about what they can be and do. After all, many of us know the pain of starting over in a different career because we did what somebody else wanted. Hmm.
So far you girl, I’m attaching a template you can use to ask questions and to help your teens goal set. Listen, our kids are amazing! We have to help them see it. So, in their college preparation, they have to not only know where they want to go, but how they will get there. Talking to them now, helps them do four things:
They see the reality they are facing
My boys now know at 18 I have an expectation of them. They will go to school or get a J.O.B. Ain’t no otha options. Lol! I’m serious. So, to get them ready, I talk to them about life and I “keep it real”. Our kids can handle that you know. Let them know why you work so hard. Let them know that it did not come easy for you to provide for them and that you want them to be successful in their own right. The reality they face is that an education is a great tool to help them reach their goals.
They get excited about going
My boys are excited about various universities and I’m glad. I talk about the cool times I had in college and what you get to do, and that makes them want to see it for themselves. We need them to look forward to those long nights studying for the Chemistry test. (Lol!) But, really and truly, I know they well grow exponentially and so their excitement is valid. Let them pick their favorite universities and start looking at what they have to offer. Show interest in what they say they want to do even if you’re like “What!”. I know my boys will be leery next time to share with me if I am not too receptive when they are excited.
I’m having my boys do research on universities they are interested in by looking at their admissions pages and checking to see what entry requirements are to be accepted. I am also having them check their classes they have taken to see if they are prepared for the career they say/think they want. We know that can change, and that is okay. The point to this conversation is to get them started and to have a conversation!
They get focused on their goals
That older boy of mine drove me nuts last year keeping a C in Latin. He would always know the information, talk about everyday, but bomb or almost bomb the test. Aaargh!!! I only got upset because this kid is bright! I mean really. He is. This year, he has hit the ground running caring about the grade and the knowledge (Thank you Jesus!). He has learned, like many freshman, the art of studying ahead.
They have a moving target to hit
If we don’t talk to them now, or help them plan, then they are shooting for nothing. Let’s help them do their college preparation before Junior year. This will alleviate stress on all parties and help you as a family set goals. You can start seeing how much fees are and if they can get into the school based on what you are seeing. This allows you all a back up plan if needed.
*I think it important to note that not all kids want to or need to go to college. Be very cognizant of who you child is. They really might be the next Bill Gates. Or, they may want to go to a technical school and own their own business where they will retire you some day. Allow them to believe in their own dreams.*
Here are some other resources to check into. Be careful with student loans. Lord knows I wish mine would “Abrah Cadabrah! Poof! Go Bye-Bye!” Lol! I really do. But, they can be a blessing. Just only borrow what you need.
College preparation can be stressful, tedious, and down right grueling. Make it easy on yourself and start now! So you want to know how to get teens ready for college? Use this information and start the conversation now.
So, would you add anymore to the list of things to say or would you add a resource? If you have some suggestions, please comment. We all want to learn, grow, and set our kids up for success! Of course, my list is short and there are many more resources we can use. Let us know!
I pray you have the talk soon and start setting goals with your kids for their future. Until next time, Rock on Sister! You got this!
Do It Anyway!