10 Points to Help Your Child Get the Most Out of College

Today’s blog features our guest blogger, Dr. Joel Ingersoll, of Take On College, Inc.  Dr. Joel shares the My College Planning Team philosophy and mission of helping students maximize the college experience. In this blog, he shares his professional advice to parents in helping their college students create a healthy, confident transition!  

Now that summer gone and we are into the fall semester, much has been written about preparing college students for the upcoming semester.  You’ve likely read numerous college survival lists noting the top 20-100 things students need to bring to campus.  Beyond ensuring they have all the “things” they need for college, have you considered what they need to get the most out of college? To ensure their college success?

I encourage you to take a moment, put the lists aside and focus on an item that you can’t purchase at Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, or the Apple store.  Parents, the item is determining how you can REALLY be most helpful to your college and college-bound student in developing critical life skills. Much has been written about parenting millennials, in particular the negative impact of overbearing, over-involved “Helicopter Parents” on the development of life skills.  Resiliency, self-confidence, problem solving, decision making, and adaptability are a few notable examples of life skills connected to successful transition from high school to college and from college to career.

A recent, timely article (definitely worth a read) highlighted an excerpt from a book on the potential effects of helicopter parenting. The article noted among other things research suggesting correlation (not causation) between overbearing parenting styles and risks of symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

To be clear, the article is not identifying parents as the sole reason for the increase in psychological symptoms among college students. In my 15 years of working in higher education settings counseling, coaching, and teaching college students, there has been regular dialogue and media attention attributing blame to parents. However, parenting styles are only a part of a constellation of factors leading to the circumstances facing millennials.  Experts also point to the influence of social media, teaching approaches, education systems placing an over-emphasis on passing standardized tests, and of course technology (cell phones, I-pads, etc.).

Unfortunately, the dilemma for many millennials lacking the development of critical life skills doesn’t end after college graduation.  In fact, enabling the problem only continues during career transition.  Did you know that there are a percentage of college graduates whose parent(s) accompany them on their first job interview?  Are you aware that there are a number of companies that will send “progress reports” home to parents of a newly employed college graduate? Click here for more details. This trend has led to concerns and challenges among higher education administrators, mental health professionals, and future employers.

Parents, as you review your “Get Ready for College Checklist,” be sure to create a separate commitment list and include the following Take On College Awareness Points!  Be mindful that we are not saying that you don’t pick up the phone when they call for help.  The point is to increase your awareness of teachable moments for your college and college-bound students and communicate with them in a way that facilitates the development of critical, adaptable life skills that will benefit them as they transition into careers.

The Parent Checklist of 10 Awareness Points to help your student maximize their college experience!

  1. It is critical that your college and college-bound student develop the capacity to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
  2. Commit to being “responsive” and not “reactive” to decisions facing your college student. (See #4 & #5)
  3. Resiliency develops from adverse circumstances, suspend your desire to immediately fix it for them, especially situations involving interpersonal conflict.
  4. Avoid starting a “reactive” sentence providing solutions: “You should….” “You need to….” “Why don’t you…”
  5. Use “responsive” phrases that challenge them to problem solve: “What will you do?” “Tell me the benefits of that choice?” “What options are you considering?”
  6. Coach your student to initiate contact with professors outside of class, particularly after receiving a subpar grade.
  7. Encourage participation in campus activities emphasizing celebration of cultural diversity.
  8. Coach your student on trouble-shooting by having them research and utilize campus resources before they get to campus.
  9. Be mindful that PRACTICE will lead them to successful transition = Problem solving,  Resiliency, Assertiveness, Communication, Time management, Independence, Confidence, Emotional Intelligence
  10. Be sure to connect with other like-minded parents interested in helping their student maximize the college experience and prepare for a healthy, confident transition!  See more at:

Take On College would love to help you reach your Peak Performance level this semester. To find out how we can help you crush your next (or current) semester, e-mail Dr. Joel today!



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