Things Kids Should Understand Before Starting College

The start of college is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. If you are headed off to college or you are the parent of a college-aged student, there are a lot of things you need to know to enjoy a successful college career. Some of these lessons will help put their minds at ease as they go through a stressful and exciting transition. Other lessons will save them a great deal of money and heartache if they know what to expect in advance. Many students borrow money to attend school and it may be the first time they have used borrowed money to pay for something. It can be scary borrowing money and feeling like you are in debt. Make sure your child is included in decisions about their financial aid and their student loans. A federal direct student loan can help you pay for your higher education. Understand that this money must be paid back but it will not be due until you have completed your education.

College students will be on their own without parental supervision for the first time. This may not be a big deal to some kids, but other kids will be overwhelmed with their newly found freedom. While they are able to enjoy this new freedom, they need to understand it comes with added responsibility. Hopefully, they will ease into their college life of freedom slowly and not forget their responsibilities.

While borrowing will help kids afford school, they may also need to get a part-time job to help them make ends meet. Some kids do not expect to work while in college and they may have had no experience balancing work and school during high school. If your child is going to need a part-time job while attending college, work with them to find something that fits their schedule. Sometimes they can participate in work-study programs and find employment on their college campus. Regardless of what they choose to do, support them in balancing their new college schedule and a work schedule.

Managing time in college is especially challenging for students. For most kids, high school is a very structured environment. They attend class all day, participate in after school activities and study during their free time. However, once they reach college, their schedule will have gaps during the day, be different from day-to-day and eventually, change at the end of a semester. Balancing study time with class time and socializing can be a challenge to kids who are just starting college.

Finally, kids have to learn to trust their judgment. They will be meeting new people in college and be exposed to new situations. While most of the things kids do in college are fun and they should be doing their best to enjoy their youth, they also need to realize not everyone is looking out for their best interest. College is a time to learn life lessons, but kids should be careful not to expose themselves to any dangerous situations that will leave lifetime scars.