Is your teenager college-ready?

I read an article in the New York Times recently about helping teenagers be college-ready. Often we focus so much on the academic readiness part that we forget about the emotional readiness. What is emotional readiness? There are many answers to this question but let me provide a few scenarios for you.

Scenario #1: Your son overslept and showed up late for his midterm economics exam. The classroom door was locked and his professor refused to let him in. Your son decided to show up at the professor's office hours the next morning and offer an explanation. Whether or not, he was able to take the exam or ended up with a zero is beside the point. The point of this story is that your son dealt with the situation on his own and showed maturity in being ready to accept the consequence of a zero on his exam for showing up late. He might adjust his study habits for the future and go to bed earlier or set multiple alarms. This is an example of someone who is emotionally ready for college. Chances are you have coached your son throughout his years in school helping him to solve problems himself and deal with consequences. 

How would this scenario look if your son never dealt with problems on his own because mistakes, setbacks, etc. were always solved by someone else? There is a very poignant line in the article which says, "a C- student who manages his own academic life has a better chance of succeeding in college than A/B student who requires parental oversight." Chances are the C- student is figuring out what study strategies work and don't work and learning to deal with consequences as they come. Yes there are many A/B students out there who manage their academic lives beautifully and yet, there are also many A/B students who require external motivation and reminders. What happens in college when there aren't those external motivators and reminders?

Another aspect of emotional readiness that I'd like to add is the ability to develop healthy coping skills. Homesickness, roommate struggles, loneliness, stress, etc. are all normal feelings. How will your student deal with those feelings? Yes, it's great if she calls home but is she also able to enlist a network of support on campus such as her friend group, RA, or counseling center? There are certainly unhealthy ways of dealing with difficult feelings but the emotionally ready student is able to tap into healthy coping skills such as exercise, talking with a friend, listening to music, reading a magazine, throwing a frisbee on the quad, watching a movie, etc. 

The link to the article mentioned earlier is here:

And if you're in the Seattle area, I'm co-hosting a free College Planning 101 workshop on Tuesday August 14. More info can be found here:

Written by Kathleen Goodman

Written by Kathleen Goodman