What’s a Senior to do?

Mr. Lipton,

At our parent teacher conferences a parent of a senior asked me what his son could do from now until the fall to prepare himself for college.  I gave my thoughts.  How you would answer this question?

-Teacher

Answer:

Great question. As far as keeping yourself on track to be successful academically, I strongly encourage all students to continue studying hard for the remainder of the school year. This enables the student to enter college on the proper trajectory. Transitioning to the first year of college is hard enough, but it becomes more difficult when the student hasn’t worked hard during senior year.

As far as other things to be doing between now and the beginning of the fall, parents should give their children more freedom and independence while their families are there to support them should mistakes be made. While this may scare parents, students should be given the option of not having a hard curfew, for at least a couple of nights before September.  As they enter college, they will most likely not have a curfew and it would be helpful for them to understand how to make sensible decisions while still at home without a curfew.

Another suggestion, is for students to learn how to do their own laundry now. While it’s inevitable for some students to have pink underwear in their freshman year, we would hope to limit these experiences if at all possible.

In general, the next few months should be a time in which parents and children discuss making sensible choices in college and how to deal with peer pressure and other challenges. Children should learn who to turn to on their college campus should they need support. That could mean academic, personal and mental health services.

Regardless of the best planning, some learning will just have to occur through experience. The key is how to learn from these experiences and how best not to repeat the same mistakes.

Parents should also keep in mind that while it may be difficult to let your children go off to college, literally and figuratively, your kids may feel equally anxious, if not more so, about leaving their home and entering a new stage of life. It’s very common for children to seek more independence that can lead to increased fighting between family members.

Just breathe, count to ten, or twenty if really bad, and tell your children that you love and support them and will be there through the good times and bad. That’s really what they want to hear, even if they tell you that they are fed up with living at home and never want to speak to you again. Until they do.

Mitchell LiptonMitchell Lipton serves as Dean of Admissions and Records and Registrar at Cooper Union.