Saturday, December 17, 2011

Suggested Parental Advice for the High School Years

 Disclaimer: My children are not in college yet, so I have no young adults.  I speak from the viewpoint of an educator who has been working with high school seniors and college freshmen for fifteen years.

    Stanford University
  1. It really is rare for a teenager to know what they want to do as a career.  I routinely quiz my seniors on this. I have found that most of those that have decided haven’t done any research to find out if they would be suited to that career.  It is normal for them to stick their head in the sand.  Your role is to help them face the reality.  I have found that teenagers can recoil in fear when pushed.  Arrange appointments for them to talk with professionals in prospective careers.  Use your networks to let them see what people do for a living.  They won’t do this on their own, so you can do it.
  2. Ditto on college choices.  Visit a number of college campuses when they are in session, attend activities at local colleges.  By viewing many campuses, they will get a sense of what they want.
  3. College is not for everyone, and parents must not apply a cookie cutter approach to each child. Proverbs 22:6.  Barnes Notes on Proverbs 22:6 says “The way he should go - Or, according to the tenor of his way.”  By the high school years you should know if college is an appropriate choice
  4. Monitor grades closely…very closely.  Have appropriate rewards and consequences.
  5. If you have allowed a cell phone consider ditching it (pause for laughter.)  Ok I know they will go into total meltdown mode, but think about this: Most teens cannot resist this digital crack and it kills their study productivity.  Their friends insist that they text back immediately if they know they own a phone.  If you feel it is not possible to permanently take it away, then set clear rules.  No phone, music player, or computer should be in sight during study should be allowed, because all it does is slow them down.
  6. Studying is not the same as doing homework.  Studying is what happens after the required stuff is done.
  7. There is a maturation issue causing serous school issues.  Some kids wake up and get serious, but time is critical.  In the freshman and sophomore years, there is still time to recover from low performance.  Have your child retake all classes where there was a D or F grade.  Some high schools have additional periods for make-up classes, while others must be done during summer.  If the classes are not offered (budget cutting) then you can pay for an online course on your own.
  8. Do not settle for community college just because it is cheap.  If the goal is a four year degree, then the transfer route is littered with failure.  For vocational degrees, community colleges are often the best route.  Do your homework, because your son or daughter probably won’t.
  9. Private schools may be affordable, but you won’t know until you apply and get back the aid offer.
  10. Do FAFSA you may be surprised by the free money available.  Get your taxes done quickly
  11. Staying at home can work if you do a Parent-Student Contract. (post coming later)
  12. Going away can work if you do a Parent-Student Contract.
  13. AT ALL COSTS uphold the Parent-Student Contract.

Your turn.  What's your advice?
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