Plan For College

Thursday, February 28, 2013

6 Unwritten Rules of College Life to Prepare For

As parents help their teens prepare for college, there are more than a few things to take care of, from application forms to dorm room necessities. But on top of that, they also need to prep students for college life, social cues and campus culture. As you talk to your teen about what to expect in his or her next four years, make sure to include the unwritten rules of university life. Here are a few:

You Actually Can Work a Part-time Job and Still Get Good Grades
A common myth that circulates among the college-bound crowd is that university students can't work a job while balancing their studies, social life and sleep. Whether it's an online job, internship or you are part of the campus cleaning crew, university students can definitely manage work and school. It teaches responsibility and time management; plus it'll likely be the reason you get to bed at a decent hour. While freshmen students might want to hold off until their second semester, parents and high school students should keep "getting a job" in mind.

Not Every Class is Hard, and Some You Don't Even Have to Attend
As a parent, you may feel uneasy confirming this truth with your college-bound teen, but you should do it anyway. It's commonly known that some college classes are hard and some are easy and some don't always (openly) require attendance. Encourage your teen to make judgments based on the teacher, the course and their understanding of the information being taught. Only if his or her time can be used more effectively somewhere else should a student miss a non-mandatory lecture, and only rarely. You don't want to form bad habits!

Don't Buy Every Textbook On Your List
Why does it seem like freshmen are the only ones on campus with heavy book bags in tow? Probably because they didn't know any better when it came to what to buy and what not to buy on their book list. Parents and students beware: some professors put textbooks they don't actually use on the book list. Wait until at least the second week of school to know which books are necessary and which ones aren't. Plus, after your first day of class you may have made a friend you can agree to share books with.

Money is Available if You Know Where to Find It
Even with a part-time job or scholarship, money can quickly disappear as a college student. Parents and teens should always be on the look out for financial aid for college— even after their first or second year. Apply for scholarships within your program or department, and look for other money makers such as peer tutoring or participating in studies that are performed throughout the university.

Everyone Hates a Mooch
Inevitably in life there will be a mooch or two. In college, here's a rule of thumb: Don't be one and don't facilitate one. As a parent, hopefully you've taught your teen about the importance of sharing. But before sending them off to college, help them understand how to handle someone who lacks understanding of the concept. If his or her roommate borrows but never pays back, eats but never replenishes or bums favors but never returns them, your teen needs to know when and how to address the situation.

Don't Wear Another Rival School's Gear on Campus
Whether you are a sports fan or not, as a university student you are expected to represent your school's pride. Don't cause a disconnect by wearing another college's gear on campus— especially on game days. That includes being aware of opposing teams' colors, because you don't want to look like you are rooting for the rival. It doesn't matter if you've been a Longhorns fan your whole life— unless you are going to the University of Texas at Austin, leave that stuff behind.


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