I continued my education and went to college straight out of high school. For me it wasn’t really a question ever of whether or not I’d go. I was not the best in school. I definitely hated High School but it still was never a question. When I grew up it was always “when you go to college….” not “if you go to college…”
My father has a Masters in Economics and is the first from his direct family to go to college. I am one of six kids. All of us went to college. Three have not completed just because life does have a tendency to get in the way sometimes, but three of us have. My oldest brother is a Physician Assistant, I have a Masters in Business Administration, and my little brother is currently writing his thesis for his PhD in Sociology.
My parents were always very open and understanding, like I said it was always a “when you go to college..” but I never felt pushed. I never felt like I’d disappoint them if I did not go but I did feel like it was something I needed. When I finished High School I was not ready for life yet. I was very naive, I was jaded, and I was shy and too socially awkward. College taught me so much more then what I learned in classes.
I do plan to continue what my parents did for my kids. I plan on stating “when” not “if” but there are so many other ways to encourage your children’s furthering their education past High School.
Read to Them
As children grow we should foster their yearn for learning. Reading to them helps grow their imagination, and if you foster a love for reading now, it makes school easier. It will not be a chore to read and learn, but rather it becomes fun and exciting.
Teach Ways to Think Outside the Box
As children go through school there are often times they will come across a problem they need help for. Be there for them. Help them work through it and teach them how to solve problems on their own. Teach them how to come up with alternative solutions when the first, most apparent, does not work. When kids find no solution in school, they are discouraged and that discouragement can go on past High School and into adulthood.
Encourage Their Independence
Even at a very young age it is important to encourage independence. It can be hard as a mom or dad to see your kids needing you less and less, I understand that. However, it can also be really hard for the child to leave home and broach new adventures, like school, if they are always needing you and afraid to leave.
Find Out What They are Interested In
Of course it will change over time. Every child goes through phases but each time your child comes across an interest, encourage it. If they want to become a veterinarian and learn all they can about animals, perhaps put them in a zoo camp. If they want to be an astronaut, buy them books about space and perhaps a telescope. Encouraging everything they want to learn, helps them to continue to do so for themselves as they grow.
Save for Their College Education
If you want them to go to college, if you give them that expectation, do what you can to help them succeed. This means at least have some sort of college savings for them. It does not have to pay their entire way but it should help the stress and financial burden be less. It can be extremely discouraging when you’re 18, just entering adulthood and realizing this one thing, school, is going to add up to a huge amount of debt.
Keep Active in Your Community
Children that are taught to give back, volunteer, and be active in their community are more likely to go to college and pursue their dreams, continuing to give back and be a valuable member of society.
Reward Their Effort
We should reward our children for their effort. I am not saying they all need participation trophies for everything. I am saying that when they studied for hours the night before a big test then received a C, you should still be happy and encouraging. Perhaps that subject is really hard. You saw that they really tried and you saw that they put in the effort. That should be rewarded.
Let Them Make Mistakes
Nobody should be expected to get straight A’s and 100% on every assignment, every test, every project. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we put in less effort and others more. Sometimes subjects are just not our cup of tea. It’s okay to get a low, but passing grade, and move on.
Tell Them Things to Expect With College
Now this can be tough. Yes you should be honest, it will be hard, it will be a completely different environment, it will be meeting new people, you do have to be accountable for your own assignments, education, and even getting up in the morning and going to class. However it is also freeing. I loved college for this. It is not as structured as High School. You can study when you want, you can take the classes you’d like (even core classes you can choose from a list), and you can participate in college life. Go to parties, join a sorority or fraternity, join clubs, and be social in class. It taught me so much and got me out of my shell a ton.
Get Them Involved in School Activities Young (or Out of School Activities like Sports)
Being apart of activities, in school or not, teaches children a sense of being apart of something more. They’re apart of a team and they gain some school pride. Also, often times these activities can support them through college. This can be sports but also it could be choir, orchestra, band or many other activities.
Show Them All Their Options
Make sure you’re completely open. Show them it does not have to be one choice. Their are all kinds of wonderful Universities, Technical Schools, Trade Schools, etc. It is wonderful to train, even as apprentices for hands on work. Someone has to do it and having the training and education puts your child above others. A four year college or university is not the only option to still further your education.
There is one thing that is most important in all of this. Be understanding and accepting that continued education is a lifelong process. It should not stop when you graduate high school, it should not even stop if you graduate college. It should be continuous.
Ultimately college is not right for everyone. I am a firm believer that you do not truly know until you try, but I also understand, it’s just not for everyone and that’s okay. Be understanding, accepting, and supportive of their decisions and help them however you can to succeed. However their definition of success is.