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College Guide for parents

Letting go to help your children grow

Rose Lucas is an educational consultant and owner of College and School Planning Services in Lexington. For 34 years, she has helped students make the leap from high school to college. She has suggestions to help both your high school student and your soon-to-be college student thrive.

Lucas says students mature a lot during their senior year. “It is so encouraging to see the growth that can happen in one year,” she says.

Part of that is built into the college selection process. Lucas says real maturity begins when the student takes control and responsibility for getting the work done.

“Parents should not run interference during the college application process,” she says. “It is very hard to let go, but responsibility builds self-confidence and self-assurance.”

Social life is important, because students have to learn to get along in whatever community they live in, be it a dorm, college, or at home as a high school student. They also need to learn to adjust if they don’t like a teacher, Lucas notes. Parents can help teach them how to cope with that, since later in life they may have bosses they do not like.

In general, don’t let students run from challenges, Lucas says. For example, encourage them to stick with challenging high school classes, including foreign language courses through the highest level offered. “If your child is not a scholar, it is not the end of the world,” Lucas says, “but he or she should not be taking classes that are not challenging, either.”

Volunteering is also important, she says. “If students really put in an effort, it will build their character. Encourage them to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army or the Boys and Girls Club.”

Similarly, encourage them to be involved in school activities. “This leads to an active college life,” she says. Conversely, parents should model taking some down time—reading a book, socializing with friends—so their children learn that habit.

The ultimate goal, Lucas says, is for students to have enough information to make good decisions—and that means they need to take a few risks now and then to grow.

Other helpful links:

College preparedness checklist

Financial aid options

Tips for parents considering going back to school

Debra Gibson Isaacs for the February 2017 issue

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