6 Unique Ways to Prepare Your Teen for College

Janine Snyder

As parents, we try to prepare our children for what comes next, but preparing your teen for college so that they will graduate with a purpose or direction can be the most important thing you do for their future and your bank account. Taking a page out of the book of every tiger mom and successful college grad, here is a list of ways that you might not have considered to prepare your teen for college.

Create a persona.

The winners in life had a strategy. They didn’t just wake up one day with a good job and a stellar 401k. They planned and they marketed themselves as the person they wanted to be. They created a resume before they needed to create a resume. They understood that the only thing representing them and separating them from the herd was that (most likely digital) sheet of paper. It may sound like a job interview, but ask your teen where they see themselves in 5 years. In 10 years. They will be asked that question a lot and it will be good if they had an answer. How can they “be” that person? What summer job should they get? What volunteer work should they do? What selfies should they delete from that Instagram account?


Set your expectations.

Did you think that your irresponsible teen was suddenly going to figure out life and get their act together once they were in college? If you think that you are going to drop them off at their dorm and wish them well while patting yourself on the back for doing a good job raising them, maybe this is a wake-up call for you. You will have a much easier transition into remote parenting if your expectations are clear long before your teen starts a google search for America’s best party schools.


Set goals together.

If your teen knows, without a doubt, what they want to be when they grow up, that is phenomenal and it makes coming up with an education track a lot easier. The majority of teens don’t even know half of the options. Explore the niche jobs that are available and have projected growth. Is a four-year degree even required for this? If they tell you that they promised themselves that they would never work in an office, smack yourself in the forehead and delete their Instagram account. Find an appropriate role-model in a real job of their “choice” and figure out what kind of grunt work they had to do to get there. The goal is not the beginning of the journey. Talk about the steps to getting there. Hold your teen to their goals. Help them create a mission statement, a motto, a mantra.

Speaking of a role-model…

While we like to think that our teens still look up to us the way they did when they did when they were younger, they might be looking for someone that seems to “get it”. Consider a cultural exchange experience. Young adults that come to America as a way to learn from our culture and share theirs can have a huge impact on your teen. Someone who is a little older, a lot more independent and intelligent can be a huge motivator, inspiration, and friend. Typically, these are educated 18-26-year-olds who have college educations or are looking to be educated as doctors, lawyers, journalists, etc. and a cultural exchange can greatly help them to further their career. An independent, educated, career focused role-model in your home?!? Yes, please!


Have “the talk”.

The one about how real-life sucks sometimes. Tell them about your educational and career journey. They might not have been listening last year, but as a career is in their near future, they might be more receptive. Tell them about hustle. Maybe they didn’t have to work hard to get good grades. Maybe they didn’t even need good grades, but they will certainly have to work hard and get their hustle on in college so they can get paid for getting their hustle on when they graduate.


Tell them the truth. 

Your child might be your whole world, but it is important that they know that no one else is looking out for them. No one. Not their friends, not their guidance counselor and certainly not their significant other of the week. They will need to find out and follow up on every course and every requirement that they need to meet their goals. They will need to watch their own back in social situations. They will need to trust their instincts when choosing their new squad. This isn’t just important for college. This could be the most important piece of info they need to get them through life. Tell them now. Make sure they get it.

Preparing your teen for college by arming them with more than a microwave/refrigerator combo will set them up for making the best possible decisions as they are preparing for after college AKA off your payroll. Make sure they continue to think about and modify their goals, with you, and build on their persona. Should they pledge a fraternity or sorority? What awards and accolades will help them in their field? What internships should they consider? Don’t stop planning and preparing and cheering them on and let them know that during this transition, they are not alone.

paid advertisement



Pin it for later:

As parents, we try to prepare our children for what comes next, but preparing your teen for college so that they will graduate with a purpose or direction can be the most important thing you do for their future and your bank account.

Janine Snyder is a wife, mom, stepmom and ambassador for the cultural exchange program. She supports parents and nannies from all over the world and enjoys writing about their experiences as well as her own. She lives with her family in New Jersey and enjoys moving around her furniture.