Updated: Nov 20, 2020
Many choices, classes or teachers in high school are pre-determined. College, however, offers opportunities that are selected entirely by students including academics, residential living and extracurricular activities. This means that students are expected to have preferences, know what they want and know what works best for them. Having so many choices can be a great opportunity if your student knows what works best for them. But some students can feel overwhelmed by these choices or have not had opportunities in high school to make decisions independently. If your student is getting ready for college it is important that you provide them with as many chances as possible for them to make decisions based on knowledge of themselves. Here are a few examples of areas in college that offer the opportunity for your college student to make choices and the information they need to know about themselves in order to make these decisions.
It is important for your college-bound student to be able to explain to others their academic strengths and weakness. Which subjects do they like best? Which subjects do they struggle with? Does your student know their learning style? Are they a visual learner, auditory learner or kinesthetic (hands-on) learner? Does your student know what time of day they have the most energy and focus? Does your student know their academic tendencies and habits such as procrastination, perfectionism, etc.? Knowing these qualities will aid them when selecting courses, talking to professors about supports that might supplement their learning style, sharing with a Disability Support Office the accommodations that are most helpful, and knowing how and when to do homework in college. There are several great learning and academic inventories.
Here are just a few:
Your college student may not have an experience of living with a stranger so living with a college roommate may be a big transition. Does your student know if they are an early-bird or night-owl? Have they practiced habits of cleanliness such as emptying a garbage can, cleaning a microwave or vacuuming? Do they know how to do laundry? Do they understand that privacy will be different in college especially in regard to changing clothes before/after showering, getting ready for bed, talking to others on the phone with their roommate present, etc.? If your student has lived in a bedroom alone throughout high school this may be a good time to start having conversations about what it is like to live with a roommate and what qualities or preferences your student would like to have in their possible roommate.
Lastly, your college-bound student will have choices in how they can spend their free time. Will your student plan to bring any hobbies with them to college such as a guitar, books, favorite pet (if allowed), art supplies, video games, etc.? Do they feel comfortable meeting new people? Do they know their leadership style when working in a group? Knowing these qualities will help them prepare for the new social environment of college and make choices that are true to themselves.