Is Your Teen Ready For College?

Not sure if your teen is ready for college? Check out the following as potential indicator's of your child's maturity.

Not every high school graduate is mature enough to handle the demands of a college program of study. In fact, more than half first-year college students drop out, due to a variety of reasons.

If you are trying to decide whether to finance your son or daughter's college education or even encourage enrollment in classes, here are some possible indicators of success in higher education:

1. High school study habits. If your child developed successful high school study habits, he or she could be well on the way to obtaining a college degree. Preparation for intense study and out of class assignments is critical for students who desire to do well. A general rule of thumb is that students should expect to spend two hours in out of class study for every hour spent in class. That may seem a little steep, but the point is that college work requires a strong commitment to class activities and homework.

2. A balanced social life. Teenagers that spend most of their time hopping from one party or outing to the next may be in for a rude awakening on campus. It's not that there are no parties for college students; in fact, the opposite is true. Social activities abound for anyone who's looking to get involved and meet people. But too many parties have spelled doom for beginning college students who were unable to balance academic study with personal recreation and perhaps even a financial contribution. Party life must be put into perspective when considering college.

3. Tentative career goals. Students who have given thought to the type of work they want to do for a living often have taken steps to plan a career. Those students sometimes work harder than others without career goals in completing course requirements and earning good grades. While many first-year students are uncertain of a major field of study, and others change their major at least once during the first year or two, they can still be successful at working toward a degree. Those who know where they're headed may find it more meaningful to earn credits toward a well defined goal.

4. Application and enrollment initiative. If your teen is browsing college catalogs, filling out and mailing entrance applications, and requesting high school transcripts, chances are he or she is serious about wanting to attend college. Students who leave those chores for a parent may not be quite as interested. Talk to your child about when he wants to start college or how she plans to pay for it to see if much thought has been given to this important commitment.

5. Financial planning. Has your teen saved money for college or talked to your financing an education? Has he or she applied for financial aid? If not, it could be that the idea of applying for college admission and working out the practical details has not yet become real enough to motivate action. Don't nag your child. Let her decide the course of her future by taking the initiative to find out tuition costs and financial payment plans.

College is a big step for teenagers. Some may start, drop out, and return when they're ready to buckle down and do the work. Consider criteria like that outlined above to determine, along with grades and ACT or SAT scores, if your teen is ready for higher education.

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