My middle two kids began university this week with CCP. They’re commuting to a local university for a three classes for the very first time. They’re 15 and 16 years old. They’ve never attended school before!
While on one hand I feel that I prepared them well for post-high school opportunities, on the other hand, I am terrified that I missed some huge important task or skill that we will have to struggle to make up for that might make their lives difficult.
I lie awake at night checking off my list of what I want them to know.
My eldest did CCP and a year or so of university before COVID, then the school faculty and staff went on strike and she quit rather than do online classes. She may go back someday or she may not. While I do feel I prepared her well, I also know there were some gaps, and our relationship suffered. She didn’t want my help and I was desperate to give it. I have regrets.
I am a first generation college graduate. It was a struggle for me to navigate that world and I feel I missed out on a whole lot due to lack of experience, knowledge, support. I store up information to impart to my kids so they know what to expect.
My husband came from academic parents and both his sisters are teachers. His middle sister’s husband is also a teacher. They all have master’s degrees, as do I. I expect our kids to fare pretty well in the academic world and possibly get graduate degrees.
College Tips for Success
Read the syllabus. Honestly. Keep up with assignments and don’t fall behind. That’s the most of it.
My kids have gotten multiple emails from their uni and there are notes in each of their course syllabi about participating in class for a percentage of their grade.
Some of this is just showing up on time and staying in class and paying attention.
Some is actively participating in class discussion, asking questions, etc.
Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but it is important to get that 10% of the grade and to learn how to effectively communicate.
Also, please keep phones silent or off and away during class time! It’s rude to eat or be on phones during class.
My homeschooled kids have never taken a test nor really had to practice study skills, so we are taking a crash course on note taking and how to manage quizzes and exams.
I realize most of middle and high school involves just learning how to learn and how to study, all those questions at the ends of chapters and vocabulary lists to define – busy work.
I explained to my kids that any questions in their textbooks are study opportunities and they should complete those and also write outlines of the assigned chapters.
There are several notetaking options that are helpful. I like outlines and the Cornell method.
Some professors prefer the students listen to the lecture and participate in discussion while others encourage note-taking during class.
My kids took their first quiz and aced it and are taking great notes, according to the student instructors. They’re excited about the homework assignments and are enjoying classes!
- Pomodoro Technique: The key to avoiding burnout is to study for no longer than 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Repeat this four times and then take a 30-minute break.
- Record yourself reading your notes aloud and listen to the recording multiple times leading up to an exam.
- Using different colored note cards for concepts and vocabulary and placing them all over your living space or use in a game format.
- Use Apple Pencil to enter text in Notes, Notability, OneNote, or Scribble apps
Be realistic about how early to get up and how late to stay in class. We chose the earliest class at 10 AM and latest ends about 1:30. There are also labs and study sessions that eat up a lot of time online or in person.
Everything is online now. It’s so different than when I attended university. There’s a server storing all the course info and it propagates to a handy calendar.
I encourage my kids to do a little bit each day for each course so they don’t get overwhelmed or fall behind. Studying and reading and completing homework takes up a lot of time, but chunking it into smaller bites makes it more manageable.
Bigger assignments can be chunked into smaller bites too. Outlining and rough drafts before the final essay.
Social activities, extracurriculars, and part-time jobs are important, but maybe need to take a backseat to the academics for a couple weeks until the schedule feels more comfortable.
Setting priorities helps to alleviate anxiety and fear of missing out.
It’s very important to keep up with communication. The school, professors, student assistant instructors, and others send out emails every day with important information.
I had my kids get the Outlook app on their devices with their university emails and encourage them to check it every morning.
Professors are usually great about replying to emails. Ask questions! Get clarification! Most professors want you to succeed and encourage active communication via email or office hours.
It’s also useful to share contact info with classmates for emergencies or help.
Being proactive is a must. Of course, we can’t help it if we get sick, but missing classes can be a problem. Most professors understand but require a doctor’s note after a couple missed classes. This is not the time nor place for the adage, “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”
It’s important for the students to learn how to communicate in an adult world. Parents can’t jump in and help anymore.
Attend the study group sessions.
Get familiar with the writing lab.
Use the tutoring services.
Learn how to navigate the library.
These services exist to help students and they are usually free and open to anyone attending classes.
Some universities even offer mental health professional services to students for a small fee, and that’s often cheaper and easier than the usual copays. There are also disability offices and waivers that may be helpful.
Eating well and getting enough sleep can sometimes be more difficult with a busy schedule.
Since my kids are commuting, I get up earlier to make sure they have a good breakfast. It’s unusual for us to have alarms and it’s been a bit rough.
I make and pack snacks and sandwiches three days a week when they have longer days. Here are some of our favorite lunch storage options.
We have lunch together on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
We all still have dinners together.
I am concerned about purchasing meal plans when and if my kids go away to college in 2-3 years. Also, packing lots and lots of snacks and quick meals and hydrating drinks to keep in their dorms. I’ve also read about horror stories of moldy AC units and on-campus restaurants being closed.
Packing raincoats and umbrellas, even a change of clothes, and extra period products in the car for emergencies is a good idea too.
It’s hard having our kids growing up and away and becoming young adults. I feel they’re ready even if I still try to anticipate any little thing and long to help.
I joined a parent support group on Facebook that has lots of info and question/answer for parents of students at the university my kids attend. It’s helpful and I’ve learned a lot of things I wouldn’t have thought about.
School Supplies my College Kids Love:
- LED Page Magnifier
- Reading Guide Highlight Strips
- Page Magnifying Lens
- Post-it Flags and Tabs
- Post-it Notes
- Transparent Sticky Notes
- Sharpie Highlighters
- BIC Velocity Max Mechanical Pencil
- Notebooks: Bono Vintage and Mad Hatter Stationeries
You might also like:
- Learning to Let Go
- College Credit Plus in Ohio
- Shepherding Teens
- Critical Tips to Acing the SAT and ACT
- Graduating from Homeschool
- How to Prepare for After High School
- Parenting Young Adults
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