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9 steps for easing the transition to college

By Kate Kelly

Teens who are headed to college don’t have to wait until high school’s over to start preparing for the transition. There are things they can do now to address challenges that may come up. Follow these steps to help teens with learning and thinking differences get ready for college.

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1. Practice breaking down long-term assignments.

When your teen gets a long-term assignment, demonstrate how to break it down and set dates for what needs to be done by when.

2. Help with developing good study habits.

Have your teen block out study time on a calendar several days before a test. Help your teen figure out what kind of environment works best for studying. Develop a plan for taking notes. If your teen has difficulty taking notes, practice other strategies, such as recording classes, or asking for a copy of the teacher’s notes.

3. Work on being comfortable meeting people.

Suggest that your teen move out of that familiar comfort zone and try sitting next to someone new in the cafeteria — or joining a club.

4. Assign “advanced” chores.

Make sure your teen can do laundry and change linens. Teens who are getting ready to live independently should know how to shop for groceries and how to do some basic cooking. Doing these things also shows teens how long it takes to complete tasks. This helps with budgeting their time.

5. Teach money management and retail skills.

Have your child create a budget and stick to it. It’s important to learn the perils of running out of money — and it’s safer if your teen is still living at home when learning about overspending. Learn more about how to teach money management .

6. Make sure your teen has self-awareness about learning and thinking differences.

Teens who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can participate in IEP meetings and transition planning . This can help them clearly understand their difficulties and how they affect them now — and what to keep in mind for the future.

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7. Cultivate talents.

Help your teen identify strengths . This will help give some direction in college. The more opportunities teens have to nurture their interests, the greater their awareness of what they can offer.

8. Help with developing self-advocacy skills.

Practicing self-advocacy skills now can prepare teens to explain what they need to succeed in college.

9. Guide your teen through logistics.

Go to the campus and do some dry runs getting around. Time how long it takes to walk from the dorm to classrooms. If your teen has a documented disability, make sure to point out the disability service office.

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