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  • 3 Skills Your High School Student Must Learn Before College, According to A Professor

    Your child needs to know these now in preparation for a more independent life
    by Laila Mendoza .
3 Skills Your High School Student Must Learn Before College, According to A Professor
PHOTO BY @Prostock-Studio/iStock
  • Letting go of your university-bound children is one of the hardest transitions a parent has to go through. Parents are so used to being with their children every step of the way, from nursery events, science fairs, family days, school dances and many more, that is why preparing their children for a more independent life requires acceptance and huge adjustments on their part. 

    Margaret Dwyer, a professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Wisconsin, noted her observation of university students in her journal. She also wrote about how to make the transition of letting go of your child easier in The Independent.

    “But in more than a decade of teaching university students, I have found some important life skills lacking: both “soft” skills that involve direct communication, and the routines that establish independence,” she wrote. 

    She then made a list of the things parents should reiterate to their children to help them become successful learners, and feel a greater sense of belongingness in the university.

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    Skills high school students must learn before college

    Addressing figures of authority. 

    One problem that she has noticed among the students is their anxiety in maintaining eye contact with older people and authority figures. Dwyer says she would encourage students to talk to her directly during or after class. “They realize they simply need to stay calm and get to the point. They are often following the directions that parents have given them for good behaviour; they just had few chances to try it on their own.” 


    Managing their own time. 

    Another problem was observed when a mother of an undergraduate called the school to ask someone to be in charge of waking up her son for the first two weeks of staying in the university because he has trouble waking up early. Even though the staff kindly rejected the parent, this shows how parents partake how their child manages their time. “Let them learn by doing, by managing their own schedules.”

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    Taking public transport. 

    The third advice talks about getting around, especially on public transport. Students often opt not to take public transport alone, because they are afraid. Parents should address this one while their children are still in secondary school. “Obviously, your home community will determine how much exposure to public transport is possible during the secondary school years. But talking to your children about investigating buses and trains will at least give them permission to try it out when they move to campus.”  

    She also noted that if the child started in university right away without learning the aforementioned life skills, they would be at a disadvantage.

    “When students are not able to get to class because they can’t get up or don’t manage their time well, when they miss assignments or take late penalties because they don’t know how to prioritize, when they are not paying attention or are just rude to me or to their classmates because they are distracted by hunger or uncertain how to act, all of those things affect their grades, and my assessment of them.”

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    Prof. Dwyer cleared that her message is not for those parents who are sending off their children in a few weeks but for those parents with kids in secondary school. It is not too late to change them, or to let them figure out their future. As a parent, you should be the one to instill independence and maturity in them.  

    “Every young adult will find his or her own way; every parent will let go in his or her own way. But moving forward is easier for everyone – parent, student and teacher – when life skills are passed on before they are needed.”

    What other parents are reading

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