The Number 1 Way to Help Your Kids Succeed in College

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Last week I shared a little bit about my husband’s co-worker. She had shared the story of her son’s college experience with my husband.

You can read the story and my college professor hubby’s advice right here

Her son lasted one semester at college before he flunked out and returned back home to live with his parents.

She couldn’t understand why he was so unsuccessful. He had attended a good school, made decent grades, and was involved in several activities.

My husband talked with her and asked a few pointed questions.

He was able to discover the root of this young man’s failing grades.

  • He rarely attended class.
  • In fact, he overslept every day and was late or missed classes. He missed exams, activities, and even meals.
  • He forgot to complete and turn in most of his assignments. The few he did turn in were far beyond the due date.
  • He could not effectively plan his day. He even lacked the skills to set an alarm and wake up with it each morning.

For the past 18 years, his mom would wake him up, manage his schedule, shuttle him to school and activities, and help him remember to complete and turn in his homework assignments.

  • He did not possess the self-discipline and time management skills to succeed on his own.

Now that my husband is a college professor, he’s encountered other students who lack basic time management and personal responsibility.

He has determined that the number one cause of failure in his classes is a lack of 3 things: planning, personal responsibility, and time management.

What is the number 1 way to help your kids succeed in college?

Help them develop self-discipline.

Now, it’s definitely true that these students lack several key character traits to help them be successful. (And watch for my next post which will outline the key character qualities to help a child succeed in college).

Character is difficult to measure. There are many reasons why a student fails to attend class or complete assignments.

However, a student with excellent self-discipline will often be able to overcome many hurdles and be able to manage assignments and schedules between college and work on other responsibilities.

So, if you want your child to succeed in college and beyond, focus on self-discipline.

  • Teach them to use a calendar.
  • Show them how to effectively use lists and planners.
  • Create due dates for assignments and stick to them.
  • Help them learn to plan ahead and manage their time wisely.
  • Let your child help plan a structure routine for each day.
  • Give them small independent tasks to practice time management.
  • Allow them a safe space to fail and therefore learn from their own lack of planning.
  • Enforce consequences when they exhibit a lack of self-discipline.

It’s much simpler to teach self-discipline from the very beginning as you slowly work toward independence and self-responsibility in your children.

Self-discipline develops over time – it’s the daily grind of never giving up and finishing what you start.

Those kids are the ones with the grit, determination, and independence to later succeed.

Further reading:

The Sticky Note Planning System

The Cons of Independent Learning in Your Homeschool

Help! I’m Homeschooling a Middle Schooler

Developing Age Appropriate Expectations for Your Homeschool

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