How to Prepare your Kids for College with Nicole Livengood

Hello and welcome to Read with you presents.

Nicole Livengood: I went to the University of Minnesota, Morris, for my Undergraduate Degree in English and Political Science. I got my Ph.D. at Purdue University in Early American Literature in 2007. I have worked at Marietta College, a liberal arts college, since 2008. I've always loved teaching freshman, and became involved in the First Year Seminar program, which focuses on helping students transition to college. I am currently in my third year as Director of that program, and love helping first-year students learn how to learn!

Chanelle: Help us understand the differences between high school and college.

Nicole: There’s a lot that we don’t think about. They might come from a place where they have known people their whole life. Their social structure is different,. Sometimes they are used to being the star in a small arena, and they can become less standout in a big school. Another change is less structured time. There is a lot of unsupervised time, and they sometimes prioritize fun.

Academically, students need to realize that what worked in high school often won’t work in college. There’s a lot of reading for each class. Even if they do the reading, they night not remember what they read. There’s a whole to of new. The first semester can be really overwhelming. Students first worry is making friends and everything else comes after that. Also, navigating food and deciding what to eat.

Chanelle: those are good points; there is just so much all at once. I like how you pointed out there is so much unstructured and unsupervised time as well.

Nicole: Even if students live at home, it can be different. It can feel like they don’t have a place on campus because people make friends on campus or on the weekends. There can be a lot of pressure that they feel from home and students can get caught in the middle.

Chanelle: you mentioned that students first priority is making friends, I can see how that would be harder at home. As parents are hearing this, what can parents do to help students prepare, and how much is the parents job and how much is the students job?

Nicole: there’s always a theory of things and a practice of things. AS much to prepare students in the headspace, of knowing it’s okay to fail. A lot of what that first semester is includes failing. It might mean getting a B when you’ve always gotten A’s. Give students opportunities to develop independence. Encourage children to take risks, even things you would rather they not do. Once students are in college, they are adults. Prepare your child for that early on. Let them talk to their guidance counselor, and be an advocate for themselves.

Chanelle: So college prep starts way ahead of time, at an early age.

Nicole: it’s not even academics, necessarily, its more just having the habits of mind and the resilience, and incentive to act. A big surprise for people is doing laundry, or recognizing that if the dining hall is closed, you should plan some food ahead of time. Maybe encouraging your child to save ahead of time, or to open a savings account, these little things are encouraging them to prepare. They can use these skills.

Chanelle: I’m happy to hear that because I try to do these things with my kids, and it’s good to know that it will pay off. My kids do their own laundry from around age 6. My son heard about his uncle who was in college and needed help with his laundry and he laughed and laughed at that. Instilling that independence from a young age is important. I love these tips on preparing and building independence.

So what can parents do as they see their children move away, what is parents ro