College prep 101: Take deadlines seriously

College Prep 101 | Keeping a calendar helps teens take deadlines seriously and balance multiple projects.

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CAN YOU imagine a student telling his college professor: “Could I have another week? My sister was hogging the computer.” or “Sorry I missed the test yesterday—I was too tired—but I can make it up tomorrow afternoon.”

We can laugh at how ridiculous this sounds, but the truth is, you’ve probably caved to these very requests yourself.

But We’re Homeschooling!

For homeschoolers, it’s easy to let deadlines slide. The sense of urgency just doesn’t exist at home as it does in the traditional school setting.

Homeschooling brings with it a false sense of security that says, “We have time … what’s the rush … he’s only 14 … that’s why we’re homeschooling,” and so on. As a result, many homeschooling parents either don’t give due dates at all, don’t adhere to them if they do, or don’t impose consequences for late assignments.

Do you want your student to succeed in college? Of course you do! Then you need to realize that in the real world, permissiveness will never fly. Together, it’s time to begin to take deadlines seriously.

Create a System for Keeping Track


You need a system for posting and keeping track of deadlines. The best method is to post a large monthly calendar in a prominent spot (in your school area, on the fridge).

Even if you use a lesson plan book and give your student daily assignments, it’s so helpful to be able to step back and see—at a glance—clearly marked essay or project deadlines and test dates. {The links in this post are my affiliate links because I’m convinced you’ll love these calendars.}

A calendar of this nature gives your teen a quick daily review of the panorama of impending deadlines. This prevents dreaded “due date creep” where it suddenly dawns on a procrastinating student that he has a test, an essay, and a science project all due in the next day or two.

It also encourages the student to pace himself more carefully when working on big projects, including spreading out the work over several days or weeks, and starting the project early enough to finish without having to pull an all-nighter.

A college-course syllabus is sure to include one or more long-term assignments, so developing the habit of scheduling and pacing will prepare him well for handling multiple deadlines that typify college work.

Catch the Whole Series

College prep 101: Learn to meet deadlines

College prep 101: Create a quiet workspace

College prep 101: Limit social network time

College prep 101: Teach responsible study habits

College prep 101: Focus on key writing skills

Photo: Dave Johnston, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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