How to Help Your Teen Prepare for College

As an adult, we probably look back and wish we had taken the time to prepare for college. Many of us often reflect on the things we would have done differently during our high school and college years. As a parent, we think about the ways we can help our teens from making those same mistakes. The transition from teen to young adult can be a bumpy one, especially when navigating the realm of higher education.

Developing tactics during the last few years of high school can help contribute to a successful college life. While you may not be able to prepare them for everything life throws their way, you can help your teen prepare for college by putting these tips into action.

#1 How to Stand Out

Teen prepare for college

Developing a professional online profile is a smart, effective way to draw positive attention to the skill set your teen has been cultivating over the past four years. These days, college admissions officers utilize services such as Linkedin much as employers do. However, creating an eye-catching Linkedin profile needs the right mixture of personality and professionalism.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham states, “Diligent time and planning are required to develop a truly beneficial footprint on the internet. Promoting one’s best self means striking a balance between presenting qualifications and offering a personality-rich narrative.” Even if you’re not the most tech-savvy of parents, you have plenty of professional wisdom to pass on and can help your teen find all the right selling points future colleges are interested in.

#2 How to Avoid the Ramen Diet

Of course, managing their finances is another crucial life skill worth building prior to college. However, utilising budgeting best practices is easier now than ever. Important tools such as budget calculators and trackers are at the end of our fingertips thanks to a new market of apps. can now be utilized through easily accessible. This means that teaching your teen about important tools like budget calculators can start early on. Whether your teen has a part-time job or a monthly allowance, showing them how to create an accurate and realistic budget will give them the opportunity to see how they’re spending habits will impact their life as a college student (for better or worse).

Of course, being able to cook is another way to ensure they eat well so perhaps gifting them with a cooking device to make life easier for them (and give you peace of mind they are taking care of themselves). We came across a great review of the Ninja Foodi which makes it sound like a great option.

#3 How to Be Mindful

Teaching teens mindfulness is certainly a challenge within itself (and, admittedly, it can still be a difficult skill even as an adult). Mindfulness requires focus and an awareness of our thoughts and attention. Considering the number of distractions surrounding teens at any given time, helping them understand the importance of training their minds can help them in those future difficult moments at college.

Experts at Kid’s Health list multiple benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you:

  • learn more
  • stay calm under stress
  • be more patient
  • get tasks finished
  • feel happier and enjoy things more

Taking time to explain and show your teen mindful exercises will give them the important mental skills needed during finals, conflict with their roommates, and handling the many other curveballs life throws at them.

#4 How to Create a Functional And Creative Space

By now, your teen has likely already insisted on taking their own creative direction of their bedroom in your home. It’s one of the few steps teens begin taking on the path towards independence. A big change in a teen’s life is the transition from their parent’s house to their own, likely much smaller, place. Helping them design a space that is both functional and creative can certainly help them feel more comfortable and confident while navigating their new life as a university student.

With that being said, it’s worth considering investing in multifunctional pieces your teen can take with them when it is time to move out. A sturdy desk with plenty of storage room will go far in a cramped dorm room. Beyond sleeping, a student’s room is often the place they spend time studying, entertaining friends, and relaxing in after a long day of classes. A funky duvet cover or unique piece of art can brighten up their cookiecutter room and hopefully be a fun conversation starter with guests. Just keep their own creative direction in mind while guiding them towards designs that will function within the space they have.

At the end of the day, helping your teen get ready for college can be a real challenge for both of you. For your teen, it will be a brand new experience where they don’t necessarily have the safety net that exists at home and it is an exciting time where they are able to finally do exactly what they want, how they want, for good or bad. For you as a parent, it can be tough to see your kid is all grown up and ready to tackle the world on their own. Even if it feels a little bit like letting go, you still have the opportunity to set them up for success and give them the right tools to make the most out of their time in college.

One more important thing you should do to prepare your teen for college is to ensure that they have all the material things they need for school. As a student, they likely don’t have the income to buy school supplies for themselves. That’s why, until they can, do your best to provide for your teen. This will help them focus more on college and learning. 

Involve your teen in the decision-making process, and take it as an opportunity to teach them about budgeting and mindful buying. For example, when shopping for a laptop or desktop with your teen, opt for a quality secondhand or refurbished computer unit instead of getting the latest gadgets. Show them how to value money and save it for more important things.

I also think it’s important to teach your teen how to save money, my friend Mandi has shared a great post on this over on Big Family Budgeting which I would recommend you read.

how to help your teen prepare for college

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