This blog post has been written by Patrick O’Brien, author of college success book Making College Count
Your student is off to college and you’d like to help. Fantastic! To be successful, you’ll need to take the right approach. Here are five things you can do to become a great resource for your student.
1. Do Your Homework
If you wanted advice on something, you’d want to talk to an expert. At a minimum, you’d want to talk to someone who is knowledgeable. At this point, why should your student look to you as a college success resource? Even if you went to college, how recently have you spent meaningful time on a college campus? When you were in school, things like electronic blackboards, professor rating websites, laptops, and Facebook didn’t exist. Invest some time in becoming more knowledgeable about college and campus life today. Learn the secrets to college success in today’s environment.
2. Agree on Expectations Up Front
Because you are helping to fund your student’s college experience, it is fair for you to discuss expectations with him. Have your student set goals and tell you how he will achieve them. Do this before the student goes to campus and review the goals at mid-terms or at a mutually agreeable interval. Remember, a fast start is critical for any student at any school. Too many students dig themselves in a hole early (with poor grades), and it negatively impacts their entire college experiences. Success -- and the habits required to achieve it -- starts week one of your student’s first term on campus.
3. Follow – Don’t Lead
Your student needs to lead the process. Give him tools, support, and advice when possible, but understand that you cannot dictate this process or “will” college success upon your student. Offer your student success strategies and principles. Ask questions to see if he is implementing them. If you try to control the process, your student will become frustrated and shut you out. If you can help him manage the important issues, the smaller issues will take care of themselves.
4. Pick Your Battles
To have a positive impact, choose meaningful elements of the process to discuss. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Your student is an adult now. You can’t run the entire show. Determine when and how you can have the most impact, and focus on those items only. Otherwise, the frequency of communication from your student may quickly diminish, along with your opportunities to provide help
5. Treat Your Student Like an Adult
If you treat your student as an adult, he will respond to you. If you don’t, he will quickly come to the conclusion that you just “don’t get it” and may begin to share less and less with you about his hopes and dreams. Offer college success advice to your student as you would to your spouse or a sibling, not a child. This may not be easy at first, and your student might become a bit suspicious if you haven’t gradually been trying this approach in your interactions with him. Don’t give up. You’ll get much farther this way and lower the risk of your advice falling on deaf ears.
You can play an important role in your student achieving college success. You just need to be knowledgeable and take the right approach to be successful in doing so!
It’s no longer enough to just “go” to college; you need a winning game plan to graduate and create great career opportunities for your future. The proven Making College Count approach to college success can help! Learn more about Making College Count here.