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Sometimes the most difficult thing for a parent to do when their student reaches their teen years is to figure out how they can help them. And sometimes the most difficult thing for a student to do is admit they need help.
But college prep is a difficult process and sometimes student and parents both need a little guidance.
How ParentsAffectCollege Prep
· Higher grades. A study by the Harvard Family Research Project showed that students of parents who are actively involved in their education have a grade point average roughly ½ a point higher. That’s the difference between a 3.5 and a 3.0, or a good private college vs. a good state school.
· Motivation. Different studies by Harvard and Stanford revealed that students can be motivated by money, prizes, or rewards, as long as they’re working toward meaningful goals. Harvard showed its short-term effects, while Stanford proved that the proper motivation can have long-term benefits.
· Homework. A Department of Education study states that almost 75% of students wished they could talk to their parents more about school and homework. Students who get higher grades stay motivated.
· Self-Esteem. Perhaps the most surprising study came from Barbara Hofer at Middlebury College. It turns out the average college student contacts his or her parents 13 times a week, but those who have high self-esteem are the most likely to stay in touch. They have, and have had, good relations with their parents and feel the need to maintain that relationship. Not surprisingly, they end up talking about schoolwork, which keeps them motivated to get better grades and graduate college.
Parental Advice for Collegebound Students
Along with parental involvement comes parental advice. There’s a certain wisdom you’re going to want to impart to your student about living on their own. Your sure to bring up subjects they haven’t even thought about.
Cover a wide variety of topics, from the seemingly mundane (how to do laundry or cook without burning down the dormitory) to the extremely important, like knowing when to take advantage of campus security measures and the healthcare facilities. Some topics can be tough, but your student will be better off if you find ways to talk about them (Families in our program should take advantage of the suggestions and strategies found in our Parent Handbook).
If you plan for college as a family, you’ll find your student does better than many of her peers. She’ll be more motivated, confident, and competent. But you can’t just take on one of life’s biggest adventures without a lot of planning and guidance. Even Lewis & Clark needed Sacagawea. Give your student all the support and advice you can, and if necessary, get a little outside help. It could make the difficulties you face in getting your teen ready for college just a little bit easier.
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