College prep 101: Learn to meet deadlines

College Prep 101 | Homeschool teens must learn to meet deadlines if they hope to survive the demands of college coursework.

FOR high schoolers, there’s more to planning for college than simply getting accepted. Unless your student has experienced a more rigorous course of study and has learned some good study habits, he’ll be overwhelmed to arrive on campus and discover the mountains of reading, writing, and studying that await.

Parents can do a lot to prepare their students, and in doing so, will help deter the stress and erratic grades that separate the unequipped college freshman from the equipped. Train your child during high school—or even junior high—by encouraging responsible study habits that will serve him well in college.

Today we’ll begin a series that will help your teen prepare for college. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to offer several guidelines to help you move in that direction.

Train Your Teen to Meet Deadlines

In many households, homeschoolers are notorious for working “whenever.” As long as it all gets done, no one seems to care whether the kids work in the morning, afternoon, or well into the evening. When giving a history or science test, the student keeps at it till he’s finished, with no attention paid to the clock. Mom asks for a report on photosynthesis, to be turned in by next Friday. It’s not ready yet? Oh, well. Just get it to me as soon as you can.

We like to think  this is our privilege. After all, we’re homeschooling. We don’t need to bow to artificial rules and schedules. But if this speaks to you, you may want to rethink the idea of scheduling—even if it’s not strict hour-by-hour scheduling. If your teenager is used to having all the time in the world, he’ll be in for a rude awakening when college hits, along with scheduled classes, syllabuses filled with deadlines . . . and no one watching over his shoulder to remind him.

This doesn’t mean your teen needs to be at the table at 8:30 every morning! If you’re a family of night owls—and it serves your schedule best to do school in the afternoon—it’s still important to introduce some guidelines and boundaries so your teen can learn to meet deadlines.

One. By taking a moment each day to survey how much work needs to be done and how much time is available, your teen will learn to avoid the panic-filled late-night study sessions that plague many high schoolers and college students.

He will also appreciate the reduced stress that comes from following a plan—and he’ll enjoy his free time all the more. Good habits of scheduling assignments and planning out longer projects will prove indispensable when he faces the additional demands of college course work.

Two. Start to attach a time limit to any tests you give at home. A test associated with a textbook is generally designed to administer in a 50- to 60-minute class period.

Essay questions given as tests should also have a cap. Depending on what your goal is, the essay could be 20, 50, or 90 minutes. That’s the real world.

So if you’ve been less than consistent about deadlines, and the fruit of your casual flexibility is an unprepared student, it’s time to start tightening up your schedule to better equip your son or daughter for the demands of college life.

Catch the Whole Series

College prep 101: Take deadlines seriously

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: Willi Heidelbach, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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