One of the most exciting and at the same time most painful events in our adult lives comes when our children graduate from high school and are ambitious to move onto college and possibly graduate school, studying to achieve the careers of which they have always dreamed. When this time comes you wish them well, but you may also worry about them. After all, how will they manage now that they will be on their own, far away from home, for the first time in their lives? How will they do with their academic work? What about the people they will be associating with? Will they be a good influence on your children or will they end up leading them astray? Here is what you can do to prepare them for a healthy lifestyle at college.
1) Instilling values
We have all heard the term “peer pressure” used again and again to describe the phenomenon by which young people feel compelled to behave as their peers do, even if such behavior goes against what know is right. The fact is that only in the absence of parental authority can this kind of pressure take hold. If children have been taught from an early age that they need to worry about what their parents think and not about what their peers think, they will not be vulnerable to peer pressure, no matter how far away from home they may be.
Similarly you will want to look into the reputation of the institution that your child wishes to attend. Is drinking or drug abuse a major problem on campus? Are the students known for being diligent in their studies or do they prefer to attend wild parties and otherwise waste their time? If you find that the student body is too shady, then it will probably be a good idea to persuade your child that it is not within his best interests to attend school here.
2) Visit the college with your child
Be with your child when he decides to take a tour of the college or university that he is interested in attending. Observe the campus while you are there and ask questions of the kinds discussed in the previous paragraph. Likewise when you come to the dormitory where your child will be residing during his stay here, find out if he will feel comfortable in this setting.
3) Keeping in contact
Once the academic year has begun, write letters and emails to your young college student regularly to see how he is managing, both in his classes and in his relationships and extracurricular activities. You might also want to take the time to visit him there and see first hand how he behaves in his new environment. You can also get to know your child’s new friends while you are there.
3) Some advice from Shakespeare
The advice that Polonius gave his son Laertes just prior to the young man’s departure for the university in France is as true today as it was when it was first written four hundred years ago. Here it is in full:
Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Graplle them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull your palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Joe Johnson is an avid blogger who contributes to a number of publications on a range of topics from health, weight loss, and nutrition. Click here to learn more about specific nutritional and environmentally friendly programs.