Overview: As homeschoolers our teens may not know how to prepare for college socially and emotionally, but you can guide them with these tips.
Knowing how to prepare for college academics may seem easy compared to whether your homeschooled teen will be ready socially and emotionally. I’ve sent four kids off to college and have learned a bit about what they will need to be ready for in the realms of relationships, expectations, etc. In this episode I share several character qualities that will help your teen succeed.
If you’re listening to this and your teen doesn’t seem to have these attributes yet, it’s not too late. Some of this they will learn ahead of time, and some of it they will learn on-the-job, so to speak. Sometimes they may end up learning the hard way! That’s OK; just be there to counsel them through it if they ask. Life lessons are always valuable!
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This episode is sponsored by CTCMath!
CTCMath provides online video tutorials that make learning math easy and effective by using a multi-sensory approach that is sure to grab and keep your child’s attention. Here is a great testimonial from Amber a mother of 8:
“As a homeschooling mother, I am both parent and teacher, and am absolutely thrilled with CTCMath! CTCMath just happens to be one of those rare finds that I have continued to use with all my school-aged children for 7+ years now! I have truly loved seeing them enjoy this math program firsthand! To see them grow in leaps and bounds in their mathematical journey has been such a gift to watch over the years, and am forever grateful for the daily role CTCMath plays in our household. Thank you SO much for all that you have done and are doing in providing such quality math lessons for my children… it means SO much!”
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Episode 55: How to Prepare for College Socially & Emotionally
You’re listening to episode 55 of the, It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School podcast. And sometimes we do have to watch them fail. You can send them off to college thinking that these things are all in place and still they might fail. And that has to be okay. It’s time for them to learn these lessons themselves now, but that’s why in high school, you want to prepare them as best as you can.
Welcome to another episode of, It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, the podcast for real people. So you can confidently competently and even contentedly provide the high school education that best fits your teen and your family, and live to tell about it. I’m your host Ann Karako from annieandeverything.com. Hi everyone. So you may already know that I’m on my last kid, my last kid of five as a senior this year, and we’re
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in mid-March now. So the time is coming soon when she will be headed off to college. We know where she’s going, that’s nice to have done, but I am looking at her and evaluating at this point. Is she ready for college? Now, the academics we’ve already dealt with that. And if that’s your question, that’s something that I discussed in the last podcast episode, so if you haven’t heard that do go ahead and listen. But kind of a more subtle area that we want our teens also to be ready for college in is the social-emotional aspect.
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And so today I’d like to talk about that. Interestingly enough, the fifth kid is much more prepared in that regard than her older siblings. And part of that is because she is the youngest. So they were all out of the house and she did not have the socialization with them, during the high school years that they had with each other, and with the younger siblings. They were not in as much need of outside interaction as she has been since she’s been here by herself for a few years. And so we’ve allowed her more freedom in that area than we did the older kids.
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And I’m going to say that it’s one of those things I kind of wish we’d learned earlier. So we’ll talk about some of that today. I’ve got six things that I want to talk about as far as preparing your kid socially and emotionally for going away to college. They’re going to be completely on their own; they’re going to be making all of their decisions by themselves from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. Including when they wake up and when they go to bed, right? So are they going to be ready to use that freedom wisely? That’s the question. So these are all just, everybody parents differently, and I’m certainly not trying to put myself in the position of an expert or tell you anything that you quote-unquote should do.
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I would just like to bring up these areas for your consideration as things to look at, to determine if your kid is ready socially and emotionally for college life. Obviously, the first thing that I want to talk about, did I mention I’ve got six, six items to talk about and the first one, I mean, it’s kind of obvious what are your kids’ social skills looking like? The older kids were fine socially, as far as I could tell, but it’s also true that they did feel somewhat overwhelmed when they went off to college.
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I don’t think this youngest kid will feel that way. She is definitely getting more socialization than they did in many different ways. One of the things about the older kids was that we were heavily involved with a church, and that is who they knew. And there wasn’t much interaction with teens outside of the church environment. Whereas this youngest one, now she’s had a job for a couple of years, and she’s also just gotten involved in other activities outside the home, perhaps more so than her older siblings. And so she’s had a lot more interaction with all kinds of teens, and I think that’s been good for her.
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So I would say, think about the idea of giving your teen; even if they’re the oldest one, even if they’ve got a lot of younger siblings at home, the opportunities to not only socialize with just homeschooled teens or just teens from the church but lots of teens. Different types of teens that are outside the normal circles that you guys frequent, obviously, you’re the parent and you know what is best as far as who your teen should spend time with, or who you are comfortable with your teen spending time with. And so I’m not trying to override that, nor am I saying to be stupid. It’s funny how I can say something and people will take me to the nth degree and be like, well, do you want my kid to hang out with sociopaths or drug addicts or no, no, no.
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That is not what I’m saying at all. I’m just saying, perhaps if you have been very protective up to this point, it might be time to loosen that just a little bit so that they can find out what it is like to interact with teens outside of their normal social circles. Just a thought I’m presenting. My youngest kid has benefited from the ability to do that. She’s been in more types of social situations than her older siblings. Therefore, when she goes off to college, I don’t think she’ll be overwhelmed. Like they were a bit, so something to think about. The whole teen peer dynamic is so strong and I certainly do not want my teen’s peers becoming more important to her than family.
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And I’ve discussed that in other areas and other places. So it is something that parents have to be wise about and only, you know what’s best for your teen. But I am just throwing out the difference between my older teens and my youngest is that she has had more opportunities to socialize in many different ways. And I think it’s been good for her. And I know that her older siblings are super happy for her. That she is having these opportunities as well, making me think they wish they had had them for themselves, or they think it would have been helpful to have them for themselves, which they didn’t get. Do you hear what I’m saying here? I’m being a little vulnerable.
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So please take my words in the spirit with which they’re meant. Okay. Number two, is your teen discerning? I can hear the reaction right now. Are you kidding me? Teens are not discerning. And you know what? They’re not naturally discerning, no. And that’s where we come in. Are you having conversations with your teen about the good and bad things in life? The good and bad of society? The good and bad of local situations? What’s going down locally, and can you discuss those things?
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And worldwide, government politics, plagues, wars, and rumors of wars. All of the things that are happening in our world today are fodder for discussion for teaching our teens discernment. What are their values going to be? How are they going to respond to these things? What are wise responses to these things? What are unwise responses to these things? Locally, situations that happen with teens locally, can you discuss those and talk about, okay, pros, cons, wise decisions, unwise decisions, talking about how decisions have consequences. All of those things help teach your kid discernment as you discuss them with them.
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Now it’s not to be a lecture where you’re just laying down your own opinions about things; discuss, dialogue, listen to what they think and be willing to give it credence and value and not just cut it down all the time. Sometimes we do need to gently correct, obviously whatever their perspective might be, or we need to present an alternative. And once we’ve done that, they’re like, oh, that makes more sense. But do listen so that they are learning the skill of evaluation and discerning what is wise and what is unwise. I’m gonna break in here for just a minute to tell you that this episode is sponsored by CTCMath.
0 (9m 18s):
Looking for a great math program? CTCMath provides online video tutorials that make learning math easy and effective by using a multisensory approach that is sure to grab and keep your child’s attention. Here’s a great testimonial from Amber, a mother of eight. As a homeschooling mother, I am both parent and teacher and I am absolutely thrilled with CTCMath. CTCMath just happens to be one of those rare finds that I’ve continued to use with all my school-aged children for seven-plus years. Now, I have truly loved seeing them enjoy this math program firsthand to see them grow in leaps and bounds in their mathematical journey has been such a gift to watch over the years. And I am forever grateful for the daily role CTCMath plays in our household.
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Thank you so much for all that you have done and are doing in providing such quality math lessons for my children. It means so much. That’s what one mom who has used CTCMath has said. I’m another mom who has used CTCMath. All I can say is that my daughter was struggling with Algebra I. There were other online programs that she got frustrated with, CTCMath enabled her to finish Algebra I. It’s reasonably priced. If this mom of eight is using it, you know it’s gotta be reasonably priced. So visit ctcmath.com today to start your free trial. So then related to discernment. Number three is self-control and diligence.
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How has your teen been characterized by these? I’ve had five kids and I’ve had varying degrees of this in my kids. And so like, number one child always had self-control, always diligent. I think it’s an oldest kid thing. I had no qualms about sending her off to college, but a couple of the younger siblings, eh, there wasn’t as much self-control, there wasn’t as much diligence. And we found out with one of them that she was better off, not at school because academics weren’t her thing and that’s probably why she wasn’t diligent at them.
0 (11m 23s):
Right. We learned from her, and so then number four kid, we didn’t send to college right away because these areas were still lacking in his life. And he needed to mature a bit more in these areas before we felt confident he would be successful at college. So if you’re looking at your teen and saying self-control is not at all a thing and diligence is not at all a thing, then you might also want to reconsider whether college is the next step for your teen, maybe a gap year or two. My kid finally went to a junior college after two full years between high school and junior college. So it doesn’t have to be one gap year. It has to depend on the kid and when they’re ready and when the opportunity arises, that is a good fit for them.
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Are they going to be able to say no to that trip to the pizza restaurant that everybody else is going on when they’ve got a paper due or a test to study for? Are they going to be able to get themselves to bed? Maybe not every night reasonably, but so that make sure they’re getting enough rest. Are they going to be able to make choices about eating from the dining hall that are fairly wise choices? Most of the time that’s the self-control type of issue. The diligence would be, are they going to work on their schoolwork, right? Are they going to work on it diligently? Are they going to plan ahead with that so that they don’t find themselves trying to write a term paper on the date it’s due and not having cracked a book for research?
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That happened to one of my kids. She was taking summer online courses while in college. And she was also in her defense, was also interning 40 hours at a company that was an hour away each way. So she had a lot on her plate, but she also didn’t necessarily use her time as diligently as she needed to given those circumstances. And the day the research paper was due, she had literally not started it yet. And the problem was that she, in her second class, also had something due, which she had started.
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So she ended up finishing the thing that she started and not even touching the term paper, got a zero didn’t turn a thing in. I think she got a D for that college course, and it was a big eye-opener to her. And it did teach her a lesson. And it is a lesson we had tried to teach in high school and had thought we had learned. But again, there are new and glorious new levels of these things when they get to college. And so she has not had that problem since. And sometimes we do have to watch them fail. You can send them off to college thinking that these things are all in place and still there, they might fail.
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And that has to be okay. It’s time for them to learn these lessons themselves now. But that’s why in high school, you want to prepare them as best as you can. So self-control and diligence are kind of wrapped up with one another. You have to be self-controlled to be diligent, right? Definitely, be gauging those things for your kid and guiding them, and helping them with those. Does that mean you become a nag? Not at all. The way to teach these things in high school is most often to let the kid take responsibility and then yes, to fail. But again, we talked about this in the last episode, the home environment, the homeschool high school environment is a safe place to fail in these areas.
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So if they end up failing, when you’ve given them responsibility for this, it’s okay. It doesn’t need to be an anger situation. It needs to be a situation where we’re talking it through with them. We’re encouraging them. This is a learning process, and yes, you failed. Let’s talk about some ways you can do better next time. Please see it as a learning process, as something we’ve all been through, have compassion and kindness, right? And gentleness showed them some self-control in your response to their failures in these areas. And that is going to build them closer to the goal than any kind of anger or yelling is going to do.
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And I’ve been on both sides of that one. Just trust me on that one. Okay. So fourthly, I think it’s a good idea when we’re talking about getting our kids ready socially and emotionally for college, I think it’s a good idea to have conversations with them about what to expect when they get to college and in a few different areas. First of all, what about the professor’s expectations? So we mentioned last time about professors are expecting kids to do the work on their own and to ask questions, to initiate that, to initiate, coming to office hours, if they’re behind or don’t understand or need to question why they got a grade on something, all of this is something that the kid needs to be ready to do on their own.
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But also when we’re talking about professor’s expectations, sometimes the lesson that we have to give the professor, what they want is a valid lesson to learn, and they can start learning that in high school. When they’re doing their writing, I’m just pulling an example out of the air on the spur of the moment here, let’s say you’ve got a writing assignment for them to do, and you’ve got a checklist that you’re expecting them to, that’s the standard for this writing assignment, right. Just a quick blub, WriteShop is great for checklists and rubrics for writing assignments. That there’s a standard that needs to be met for this writing assignment and the kid needs to meet it.
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So that’s a set of expectations right there. And so has the kid met those expectations or not? And each professor is different as far as what their expectations are. And so there can be some dialogue with the kid about this whole idea of getting to know what the professor is looking for and delivering it. I think that’s a really valuable conversation to have, or conversations to have. What else can they be thinking about what to expect when they get their dorm life, right. That’s a whole set of discussions about, what is it going to be like to live in the dorm, to live with a roommate to have to get, or multiple roommates?
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One of my kids was in a room of four. She was the fourth of four girls in their dorm room. Talk about a situation for growth because, where are you going to study? What about bedtime? And what about being considerate of those around you? And what about when they’re not considerate of you? All of these things, great fodder for conversations now, before they get there. So dorm life, another thing, boy/girl relationships? When they get to college, especially coming from a homeschool environment, Christian or secular, when they get to college, they might have their eyes opened in a hurry about the type of boy/girl relationships that happen in college as opposed to happening to their own social group when they were still at home.
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And so I’ve had these conversations with my kids about what kids are going to be engaging in premarital sex at college. It is a thing even at Christian colleges, y’all, this is a thing, and you need to prepare your kid for that idea and then discuss your own value system with them and discuss how that applies to what they’re going to be encountering in college. I’m not going to impose my value system on you at this moment. I’m just going to say that is something that is really helpful to dialogue with the kid before they get there.
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So that they have an idea of where they’re coming from, and what their goals are when it comes to relationships and how to respond to those things. Another thing, what number am I on? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I didn’t number them on my notes, silly me. What about initiative? And this is kind of wrapped up in some of the other things we’ve already been discussing, but it’s also kind of its own separate topic. How much initiative does your kid have for things like, making a plan or asking for help or beginning something that needs to be begun, getting things done, maybe they’re running low on money?
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Do they have the initiative to get themselves a job? Do they have the initiative to help somebody else? Initiative could encompass any number of things. It’s the idea of seeing a need, whether it’s your own need or somebody else’s need, and taking steps to do something about it without having to be told to do so. And I’ve had conversations with my kids about this sort of thing. If you notice the woodpile is empty, get some more wood. If you notice the trash can is full, take the trash bag out and put it in the can outside.
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I should not have to tell you to do these things, you should see this and take initiative. And okay so those are silly examples, perhaps, and in college, they’re not gonna, have to fill the woodpile, but they will have to make sure that they’re getting assignments done and they’ll have to start assignments. They’ll have to see maybe if the relationship with the roommate is not as good as it should be or they want it to be and take initiative to try to fix that. They’re going to have to notice when their grade is going down, what initiative, what are they going to do to try to bring it back up again? Does your kid have initiative or do they have to kind of be told to do just about everything?
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Another great gauge about they’re going to be ready for college or whether perhaps they need to wait a little while and you can work with your kid to prepare them for college by working on their initiative. Last, not least. In fact, if I were going to number these in priority order, this would be number one. And we talked about it briefly last time, too. Because it is really numero uno, primo, every other language, if you want to come up with. Number one, and that is your relationship with your teen is the best way to prepare them, socially and emotionally for college.
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What is your relationship with your teen like? I’d like to take a moment here to give a plug for my book called Save Your Sanity for Homeschooling High School because it has an entire chapter in it about your relationship with your teen and how to maintain it or how to improve it if it has gone a little south. We’ve all been there and I’ve been there at one time or another with every single one of our teens. Maybe not long-term right, but teens will push our buttons. They will respond poorly. We will respond poorly. Relationships can go downhill short term or long term.
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How are you going to fix that? And there is a chapter in the book that I hope will be helpful in that regard. But just in general, when your teen knows that you are there for them when that relationship is solid when they are firm in your love for them and your pride in them, that is going to help solve so many problems that they might encounter in college. Because they’re going to know that they can come to you to ask for advice, they’re not going to shut you out. Very, very, very, very, very, very, very important.
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I can’t stress it enough. And if your relationship with your teen, isn’t what you want it to be. Then you take the initiative to start working on that today. So that by the time they leave you to get to college, it is stronger than it is right now. And if it is late in the day, so maybe it’s mid-August and you’re hearing this podcast and you know that your kid is going to leave in like a week and things are not where you are comfortable. You’re afraid your kid is just leaving to get out of the house. It’s very common. Don’t worry too much about it, but you can still do things even now to help build a bridge or several bridges in that relationship.
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What about writing a note to your teen and kind of sneak it in one of their boxes of things that they’re going to unpack in the dorm room. So that they come upon that note later or send them an email after they get there, or just, hugs and smiles go a long, long way. Smile into their eyes, tell them you’re proud of them. Affirm what they’re doing. Start to reframe that relationship from a negative relationship to a positive one, the more positive things they hear coming out of your mouth, towards them, the better they’re going to feel about the relationship. And you are the adult. You can send positive vibes their way, even when they’re sending negative vibes, your way, you can do that.
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And if the relationship is something that’s important to you, then you will be the adult and do those things. Please make the relationship more important than their academics. Then their failures, when the relationship is the thing that is the goal, then everything else falls into place. I cannot, cannot stress that enough. They need to know that you are a safe place. They may not call you for advice about every little thing and that’s okay, but when the big stuff happens and when they know that you are a safe place, then they will reach out. And that’s exactly when you want them to.
0 (25m 58s):
A lot of the little stuff, you want them to start handling by themselves anyway, but the big stuff you want to be there for them. You want them to know you are there for them. You want them to choose to call you. And if they do know those things, then they will call you. And that’s the best. So most important thing is to keep that relationship on firm, solid ground, by being positive, right? Affirming and yeah, let them know that you love them and are proud of them as much as you possibly can. Alrighty, we got a little deep right there at the end.
0 (26m 39s):
Sometimes they don’t come around right away. They don’t come around, even in a short period of time or in a couple of years. But I think they will come around eventually, and so hang in there and do your part. So we’ve talked, talked about ways to prepare our kids socially and emotionally for college, we talked about social skills, discernment, self-control, and diligence, giving them ideas about what to expect from various things about college. We’ve talked about the initiative, and we’ve talked about your relationship with your teen. And these are all things to just be aware of and most of them are going to involve just dialogue between you and the teen.
0 (27m 26s):
So make dialogue a thing that happens as regularly, as often as you can. So when you’re driving in the car or maybe sit down and chat with them a minute while they’re working on something or staying up late. If they are staying up late, maybe you want to stay up late with them a time or two. It’s hard. I get so tired about 9:00 PM, but usually late at night is often the time when they’re going to be most expansive and most open with you. So maybe you want to try to stay up late with them once or twice. Are they in the kitchen making breakfast, then sit on the stool and have a conversation with them there.
0 (28m 7s):
Every conversation doesn’t need to be deep and heavy but set the stage that, Hey, we’re conversing now because there’s so much to that I want you to know before you leave us. And the clock is ticking and I’m beginning to feel it. And because I love you, I want to talk about these things and I would be remiss as a parent if I didn’t, right. And I want to hear what you have to say about it. Okay. So for what it’s worth
1 (28m 35s):
from a mom of five teens, four of whom have gone on to college, this is how I would suggest you look at and consider how to prepare your kid for college socially and emotionally. So please remember as always, it may not always be easy to homeschool high school but it doesn’t have to be that hard. I have no idea what my next podcast episode will be about. You will just have to tune in for May, this is the last one for April. So tune in, in May and we will have to find out together. All right. Thanks for being here.
- Episode 87: How to RELAX about Homeschooling High School - September 16, 2022
- Episode 86: Affirmations for Teens – from YOU - September 2, 2022
- Episode 85: 5 Steps to Create Fun Electives for High School from Your Teen’s Interests - August 19, 2022