If parents are wondering how long it will take for their student to graduate from college when the average length is four to six years (for the fortunate 54.1% that do indeed graduate), they may want to take an extra long, extra objective look at their children. Exactly how ready for college are they?
The key to the best chance for a successful and relatively short college career is college readiness. Unfortunately, with emphasis on passing standardized tests and cutbacks in educational funding, students aren't getting the college prep they need. However, there are ways parents can fill the gap.
Parenting involves teaching life skills and values that will prepare the next generation as future good citizens. It also can provide the best techniques for students to learn and excel. This type of college prep kicks in during kindergarten, is molded in middle school, and is honed to (near) perfection in high school.
According to the Youth Indicators, America's Youth: Transition to Adulthood 2011 reported by the National Center of Educational Statistics (NCES), many students are not prepared for college.
College readiness among high school students can be measured by the actual performance of college students and their correlated scores on ACT tests for English, mathematics, reading, and science. For English, 66 percent of students met college readiness benchmarks in 2009–10. Some 52 percent met benchmarks for reading, along with 43 percent for mathematics and 29 percent for science.
The message is clear. College prep must include college readiness. Parents can start the process early and prepare their children for a lifetime of learning.
Parenting college readiness
Here are the top five ways parents can teach their student college readiness:
1. Work ethic Learning is a job. There is school work and homework. Parents can show their offspring how to be good at their "job" as students with a strong work ethic. Later, colleges will review academic records and letters of recommendation to check student "evaluations" and "reviews" as proof they can handle college level work.
2. Study skills A well lit, free of clutter, quiet space may set the stage for doing homework. But some children may learn better with music playing in the background or surrounded by favorite possessions. Parents learn what works best for their child and ensure their student has the appropriate space for study. Students will use this knowledge to recreate a study space at college such as in their dorm room or in the library for a successful academic college career.
3. Artistic talent Parents know every child is unique and has a special talent ripe for nurturing. They can encourage the development of artistic, musical, athletic and leadership abilities through experiences at home, in and outside the classroom. Colleges are looking for students that stand out from the rest and will become a campus asset.
4. Creativity Parents know the joy of seeing the world anew through their children's eyes as their youngsters explore, using trial and error and their five senses. It's the essence of outside-the-box thinking. Parents can continue to encourage such creativity. Colleges will look for it in activities, honors, achievements and application essays. Students will continue to use it to problem solve throughout their life.
5. Time management All the skills, talents and creativity are for naught if there isn't enough time to accomplish goals. Parents can teach organizational skills with a calendar. Activities can be listed by date and time. When conflicts arise, parents can help students create pro and con lists to make the hard choices and prioritize. College schedules are chock full of curricular and extracurricular events, lectures, clubs and activities. Then there are the spontaneous plans with friends. Learning how to say no by prioritizing, getting to class, accomplishing assignments on time, and allotting enough time to achieve goals will serve students well before, after and during college.
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