About halfway through high school, many parents realize their kids will soon be off to college, out on their own. And that’s when the worry sets in. Do they know how to make dinner? Will they remember to do laundry? While it’s vital for parents to start modeling life skills for their teens, this is also the time to cement the study skills that will help them succeed in college.
Here are five study skills you should help them master now:
First Study Skill: Managing your time
High School Habit: Most teens are inundated with extracurriculars, SAT test prep, college applications and more — not to mention a full day of school and often a part-time job. Helping your child learn to prioritize and plan, not only their evening but their whole week, is an important skill to staying on top of fluctuating classwork assignments and other obligations.
College Pay-off: Class time in college can be deceiving. All of a sudden you’re not expected to be somewhere all day and the freedom can be liberating. Depending on the schedule, students might have only a couple of classes a day – or none at all! Being thrown into this environment can be tricky for kids who aren’t used to planning. They might not realize that if they have six hours of class one day, they better be doing a whole bunch of studying on the days they have a lighter load.
Second Study Skill: Studying sans distractions
High School Habit: Teens do best when they study free from thumping music, blinging phones and, yes, even their siblings. Help them establish a quiet, well-stocked study place so they can minimize their distractions and get their work done as efficiently and effectively as possible.
College Pay-off: If they thought their house was distracting, wait till they spend some time in a dorm. There is always someone wanting to make a fro-yo run, visit the gym or even indulge in a House of Cards binge. If your child has established good study habits, they’ll be more apt to find a quiet study spot, whether it’s their dorm room or the library, so they can get their work done in peace and then have fun!
Third Study Skill: Monitoring your tech breaks
High School Habit: FOMO (fear of missing out) is a strong pull, and it can be hard for your teen to willingly part with their devices while they study. Help them figure out an appropriate break schedule so that they have a goal to finish and then they can catch up on Instagram.
College Pay-off: Again, all of a sudden there’s no one telling them what to do, and so it can be tempting to try to study with the TV on or a browser open to Twitter. But if they’ve experienced how much more quickly they can complete work when they are 100% on task, they may be more likely to carry that habit into college and turn off the tech – at least temporarily.
Fourth Study Skill: Breaking projects into manageable pieces
High School Habit: In high school, teachers are still pretty good about giving ample warning when there are large projects and having check in points along the way, where you have to turn in an outline, a rough draft etc. Adhering to that schedule and seeing how much easier it is when you have segmented your work – can set your teen up for success.
College Pay-off: Professors aren’t nearly as helpful, in many cases. Often a grade depends on one paper, or final exam. It’s up to your child to figure out how to plan their time so they are able to complete the project or studying by the due date or test date. The skills they’ve learned in high school about breaking up projects and completing a bit at a time will stand them in good stead.
Fifth Study Skill: Seeking help when you need it
High School Habit: Don’t wait until your teen brings home a less-than-stellar grade to seek outside help! Many times, the signs are there: from your child feeling constantly overwhelmed to sudden negativity toward a certain class or school in general. Don’t let them flounder. Seek help from the teacher, or an online tutor via Tutor.com. Our professionals can help with everything from a tough calculus assignment to studying for AP Exams.
College Pay-off: Once your child learns to recognize their pain point, they’re more likely to seek assistance before it gets too bad. Help them find resources, whether it’s the TA, a study group or an on-campus resource room. Their counselor or dorm advisor will be able to help them identify the study help they need.
It can seem almost impossible to picture your child on their own, in the dorm, but the time will be here before you know it. Helping them establish good routines and habits – for eating, sleeping, exercising, and yes, studying – will make the transition that much easier.