Op-Ed: Life Skills Key to College Success


It takes more than good grades to make it in college.

Life skills also play a role in determining whether a student succeeds or struggles away from home and a recent New York Times op-ed encourages parents not to overlook the importance of fostering independence in their teen long before freshman orientation.

“The key indicator that an individual is ready to begin this transition is the emergence of a new level of personal responsibility,” clinical psychologist Mark McConville writes in the column.

Specifically, college-bound students should be equipped to handle their academic obligations, shoulder administrative tasks, and oversee their medical and behavioral health before leaving for college.

That means setting a sleep schedule, doing what they need to do to stay on track in school, and feeling comfortable completing everyday tasks, such as arranging a doctor appointment.

By taking a step back, families can help their students prepare for college while still in high school, McConville said. For instance, he urges parents of rising high school juniors to let their teens take greater control of their academics in the year ahead.

“If you still feel like the homework police at the end of 11th grade, it’s time to retire,” McConville writes. “A C-student who can manage his own academic life has a better chance of succeeding in college than an A- or B-student who depends on parental oversight.”

Read the full op-ed and explore the topic further during our Sept. 12 #NACACreads discussion of The Self-Driven Child.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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