Parents are concerned, and rightly so, about how their young adult will do in college that first semester. After all, the college indicated their child was prepared academically, but it did not evaluate all the skills that go into being successful that first year away from home. And this is the paradox of college acceptance: many young adults entering college may fail or struggle for reasons that have nothing to do with academics.
So what other things should a parent be considering that summer before their new high school grad becomes a new college Freshman? None of the items on my list will be a revelation to most parents, but all have been, in my experience, an item that has caused serious hardship or even failure in college for past clients. New college Freshman need to have mastered or be approaching mastery in transportation, managing their daily schedule (including bedtime, wakeup time, and taking meds), socializing, managing their own health and nutrition needs, and self-advocacy (including communicating with professors, residential advisors, and disabilities services).
For some of you reading this, there is a lot of work to do and it probably feels like not enough time. This is why I state “approaching mastery” as a goal. Some of these skills will only be mastered at college, but understanding the skillset weaknesses, and learning the basics will help prevent catastrophic failure.
Some practical ways to work on and develop these skills are to have a part time job. The worst that can happen is being fired, and being fired from a part time job is usually less bad than failing out of school. Also, have your young adult get their driver’s license and start to do a bulk of the family chores that involve driving, like grocery shopping or transporting younger siblings to soccer practice. Finally, leave the house. Take everyone but your young adult on a one-day to one-week vacation and see how your young adult does. Give him or her chores and duties, some money to budget, and other responsibilities, and see what happens. This is not a final exam for them, but an assessment to see where they need work in skill development. Do this soon so you have the rest of the summer to work things out.