By BRENNA WEAVER, LPC
Answer: Unfortunately, it is impossible to fully prepare your high-school senior for college. Honestly, it is impossible to fully prepare for much in this life. As Proverbs 19:21 tells us, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Whether it is college, work, marriage, parenthood or a new year (as 2020 taught us), we can plan to the best of our ability, but our control is limited.
I imagine getting your student to senior year took a lot of hard work. Helping your child navigate homework/school projects, extracurriculars, peer relationships and puberty, to name only a few things, is no easy feat. It makes sense that you may feel anxious or scared to send them out into the world. There are many unknowns as you consider his or her upcoming college experience.
Another Proverb which comes to mind is 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The countless hours you have poured into parenting your child have not been in vain. Your student will go to college and inevitably make mistakes; however, that is developmentally appropriate and not a sign of poor parenting. Hopefully, he or she will recall your guidance and find a path forward.
There are small, practical ways you can prepare your student. Touring the campus so he or she can note important buildings (e.g., cafeteria, library, bookstore) is one thing. Making sure your student knows important deadlines for class registration, FAFSA, dorm/apartment applications, and how to contact the appropriate campus personnel is another thing. It could be easy to do these things for your student.
On the other hand, I have seen parents meticulously map out the campuses, including outlining the best routes to and from the dorm and every possible building on the grounds; additionally, I have seen parents schedule all the classes and contact every advisor. This handicaps the student. It is essential he or she makes the connections.
Similarly, talking to your child openly and honestly about sex, drugs and alcohol is crucial. Even if your student is going to a Christian college with strict rules, sex, drugs and alcohol are real-world realities he or she may face. Many parents are fearful of having open dialogue about such topics; however, if your child does not hear it from you, it will most likely come from a peer or someone else less qualified to guide him or her.
As your child prepares to launch to college, pray earnestly for him or her. Trust that you have done what you can do with your finite abilities. Allow him or her the opportunity to figure out campus details. Talk openly about hard topics. And finally, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Brenna Weaver is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Ridgeland working with clients 18 years and older. She has experience as a secondary education teacher and children’s therapist. When not working, she enjoys reading, eating good food, and traveling.