January 24, 2018

Set Your Child up for Academic Success in High School

A year from now, your high school senior will be a college freshman. With that transition, they will go from relying on you for basic needs to becoming a self-sufficient, homework-doing machine.

To aid this transition, their senior year is the time for you to let go of the reigns and let them make their own decisions.

Help your students thrive in college by giving them more responsibility in high school.

Tip One: Talk to your senior about their responsibilities

Your senior should become responsible for themselves over the course of their senior year. Some of the minor things that make a difference are getting themselves to and from school, coordinating rides to practices and events, and doing their own laundry. These tasks will eventually be 100% on their plate, so easing the transition in high school will make their adjustment a lot easier.

You should discuss their responsibilities with them and let them know that you’re here to help strategize and support, but next year they will be making these decisions on their own so it is time to start practicing. Having your senior learn responsibility skills while under your roof will help them learn how to do things (like run the dishwasher) and allow for teaching moments (like running out of clean underwear) to happen while you are around.

Tip Two: Allow Your Senior to make their own decisions

Your senior should begin to have their own decision-making powers. When I was a high school junior, my mom began to reply with “that’s up to you.” I was able to determine if I skipped school for a relaxing day, needed to go to the doctor, went to a party, etc.

Being awarded this power was crucial because, by the time I got to college, I was much more responsible when deciding if I skipped class because I had prior experience doing this. While this power I was given could obviously be abused, it is up to your high school senior to learn to evaluate the costs and benefits and begin to make these decisions as they will be the sole decision maker when they get to college.

Tip Three: Do not endorse senioritis

Senioritis is not real; it is just another word for laziness. While your senior’s homework and tests feel less important once they’ve gotten into a college, the hard work that goes into doing well is not. When high school seniors take the year to goof off and have a good time while neglecting their school work, they make it harder for themselves to start off college on a strong foot.

When I was a senior, I took two AP courses and was determined to receive college credits at my school of choice. This meant I needed to get a 5 on both exams, so I did not buy into senioritis; rather, I did all of my homework and studied harder senior year than ever before.

Instead of allowing your student to slack, make sure they have something that motivates them to work hard, be it college credits or a hobby course. This keeps your student motivated, showing up to school, and doing their homework.

Tip Four: Encourage them to start college with as many credits as possible

The more college credits you start with, the faster you can get out, the more money you can save, or the more you get to explore new subjects while you’re in college. I chose the latter path, but all are significant reasons to take those credits while they are free (or mostly free).

Not only does college credit high school courses help your senior complete college more timely, your child’s college readiness skills will also improve due to the nature of the courses. If you and your child still have time to plan out their senior year schedule, challenge them to take some AP or college-credit courses in topics they are mildly interested in or have strong teachers!

The most important tools a parent can give a high school student is the freedom to grow more self-sufficient and motivated. Allow your child to gain more responsibilities, make their own decisions on if they go to school and when they do their homework their senior year. This will help them become a motivated, independent college student who already knows how to create their own structure.

Test these tips to help prepare your student. If you have any questions for a recent college grad, leave comments!

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