Sending your son or daughter off to college is no small task, especially if you’re prone to empty nest syndrome. But look on the bright side: it’ll be four of the most formative years of their lives. So in order to make sure that your kids get the most out of college, here’s how to prepare them for the long road ahead:
- Take a deep breath. Before you start anything, don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Remember that there will be a lot of ups and downs, and that no matter what it’ll all work out okay. College is a place to learn, after all. Instead of stressing about your son’s first roommate, or what your daughter’s class schedule is, take a deep breath and think of all the college students who have been through it before, and who have succeeded. Your child will be just fine.
- You drive; they pack. Going to college means a whole new world of responsibility. To make sure your kids really understand that, have them take ownership of their lives before they step foot on their college campuses. For instance, make them largely responsible for the moving process. Have them figure out what stuff they’ll need and how to fit it all in a suitcase (or the car, for that matter).
- Show them the lay of the land. You’ve been around the block a couple of times, so to help make sure your kids don’t make any unnecessary mistakes, show them how to read a public transportation schedule, or where to shop in order to get the best deals, or how to open a bank account—you know, the basic practicalities of life that they may not know yet. In other words, let them know you’re always a source of awesome knowledge.
- Expectations are okay. Definitely remind your kids that college is an investment, and that it also comes with a price tag. Therefore, in order to get the most bang for your buck, make it clear that you expect a good effort on the academic front. Of course, don’t be too forceful, as college is also a place where your kids will become more and more independent. Overall, remember that setting ground rules and allowing freedom is a careful balance—figure out what works best for you and your child.
- Assurance. At the end of the day, your kids might miss home a little bit. Remind them and yourself that this is normal. It’s all part of the college experience, so let those feelings come and go. Once your child is on campus, check in with them once in a while. That’ll help the adjustment process, especially for families with strong bonds and long distances between them.
If you apply for a job or internship, chances are you’ll be contacted for a phone interview. Don’t be fooled, as this is an important step in obtaining a job. A solid phone interview often leads to an in-person interview, which can lead to a big opportunity. Here’s how to ace it:
1. Use a cheat sheet. When interviewing on the phone instead of in person, you have a major advantage: you can make a cheat sheet. Seize the opportunity to map out all of your talking points beforehand and lay them out in front of you to take the stress out of completely memorizing what you want to say. But have some flexibility. Just because you prepared for a certain question doesn’t mean your interviewer will ask it, so be ready for anything.
2. Find a quiet setting. Even though speaking with someone over the phone might seem casual, it’s not. Treat your phone interview like an in-person interview by avoiding distractions and finding a quiet place where there’s no background noise. Furthermore, sit in the place where you do work—it’s a small mental reminder that you’re on a work call, not a chat.
3. Use a good phone connection. If you can, use a landline to ensure clear sound and a trusty connection. If on your cell, make sure it’s completely charged, and check the quality of your service. If you can’t access a landline and if you’re uncomfortable using your personal phone then you can try using Skype, which has a reliable voice option if your internet is stable. There’s nothing worse, after all, than getting cut off mid-conversation.
4. Remember who you’re talking to. On the phone, it’s sometimes easy to forget who you’re not chatting with a friend. So keep an even pace, don’t interrupt, and stay professional. Every interview is different, but it’s wise to avoid telling jokes or using slang.
5. Practice. In the age of texting, Facebook chat, and e-mail, the art of speaking on the phone is getting tougher to master. But to do so, ask a friend or parent to pick up their phone and pretend they’re a potential employer. It might seem silly, but the lessons learned are invaluable. You’ll learn how to talk efficiently, how to think quickly, and how to handle pauses in conversation.
Say you’re required to take a science course, or a math course, or an English course, and none of these are your strong suits. Instead of freaking out about getting a lower grade on a paper than you’re happy with, or instead of banging your head against a wall while trying to figure out why you just couldn’t ace that exam despite your hours of studying, try showing your professor that you care about the class through participation. After all, most professors include participation as a substantial part of your grade for the semester. So, with that in mind, here are some helpful hints:
- Talk yourself into it. If there’s any participation grade at all, then why aren’t you doing your best to make sure you knock it out of the park? Participate in every class, whether you’re completely sure of an answer or not. After all, it’s called a “participation” grade, not a “you-have-to-get-this-question-correct-or-else” grade. Your professor won’t reprimand you for showing that you’re paying attention in class and attempting to get a grasp on the material. What they can do, though, is punish your GPA if you sit through their class in complete silence. So speak up.
- Practice makes perfect. If you’re so afraid of public speaking that even speaking from your chair in front of all your classmates is kind of crippling, then take some baby steps. Participate in a small seminar instead of a lecture at first, then work your way up. Or, start participating in classes where you’re most comfortable with the material, then move to the more challenging ones. That way, you’ll get a feel for what it’s like to share your opinion or an answer with others, out loud. Like any skill, participation is a muscle, so work it out.
- Ask a question. If you really can’t answer a question in class, or if you are already sharing your opinion on a topic, then don’t hesitate to raise your hand in order to ask a question. Often, a good question (and any question is a good question, right?) will push class discussion, and teachers love that. Plus you’ll probably be asking a question one of your classmates had, anyways, so you’ll be helping them out too. At any rate, you’re professor will see that you care enough to think and to ask, which can only give your grade a little boost.
Whether you’re living abroad, studying there, or just taking a vacation, it pays to do a little research before you actually arrive. From France to Turkey to Egypt, every culture has different customs. Do you tip at restaurants? If so, how much? Are taxi rides negotiated ahead of time, metered, or are fares set and standardized? What should you do and say when greeting someone? What shouldn’t you do? And more! Click the graphic below to find out:
Life in college is expensive. I mean, come on, you’ve got bills to pay: that takeout pizza, those school supplies, and not to mention that monstrous tuition bill that eats at your wallet like a crazed Pac-Man. With that in mind, whether you qualify for federal work-study or not, you should do your best to find a job on campus in order to make some easy cash—or at least some spending money. Not sure which job is the best? Here are some common campus employment opportunities that will leave you as happy as the check in your pocket:
- Library assistant. Whether you’re posted up at the reference desk or at the circulation desk, keeping track of books and library materials, this job is kind of a breeze. Of course, the school library isn’t the most hectic or stressful place around, and by virtue of what it is, it’s usually always quiet. What does that mean? Not only are you on the clock for working, but you’ll likely be able to get some reading for class done. Getting paid to do homework? Score.
- The dining hall. I know what you’re thinking: Seriously, the dining hall? Are you crazy? I definitely don’t want to work in the dining hall. True: working with food—especially leftover food—can be kind of gross. And yeah, wiping down table or cleaning dishes might not be the most glamorous job, but hey, you get to experience the customer service business, and more, you can appreciate your own dining time that much more when you can put your feet up and relax. Plus, your parents would probably like to hear that you’re putting in some blood, sweat, and tears in order to earn your keep.
- Residence Assistant. Being a residence assistant (RA) might be the most lucrative job on campus, as you get paid a ton of money, and some schools even offer perks such as free parking, free board, or a free meal plan. While the duties of a residence assistant might be demanding, and while you might not want to be responsible for keeping track of and possibly disciplining your peers, the benefits are obvious: you get to organize social events and be a major leader on campus, all for money.
- Career services. If you snag the opportunity to work in career services, say, as an office assistant, then you’ll get to see all the career opportunities as they come in, and you’ll be surrounded by those who know how to land you a future job. Hey, getting ahead is always good, right? Especially if it comes with a paycheck.
- Art gallery. Art galleries on campus need someone to check visitors in, and that person is often a student. So why not you? Be a loyal patron of the arts as well as a student worker in one fell swoop.