Plan for College, Prepare for Life

As parents we want nothing more than for our children to become successful and happy.  A large part of that centers on education.  Helping our children transition from elementary school to middle school, from middle school to high school, from high school to college, from college to career.  In an increasing number of cases however, the transition lands the college student back in their parent’s home.

According to Growing Leaders, Inc.,, “far too often, we’ve focused on predictors such as Grade Point Average or SAT scores. We figure if a kid is smart—they’ll stay in school and continue to be engaged in class. It made sense to us.  Today we’re realizing those are not the most significant categories to measure.”

A recent study showed that there are six factors that are valuable predictors of success in college.  These factors can be measured as early as middle school.   The top three factors and their level of importance are:

Academics – 17 percent

Motivation – 15 percent

Behavior –    14 percent

Together, motivation and behavior contribute more to college readiness than achievement. These six middle school factors predict college grades (cumulative GPA) and graduation better than the ACT or the SAT. The message, it is critical that preparation for Post-Secondary education, focus not just on academics but learning:

Basic life skills – laundry, cooking simple meals, getting yourself out of bed

To manage time well

To use your support system

To seek help when needed

To be open to new experiences

With college also comes changing expectations:

In High School                                                                          In College

Teachers assume responsibility                                                 Students assume responsibility

There is light reading                                                                 There is heavy reading

You have multiple writing opportunities to get it right             You develop a draft and produce a final paper

You practice rote math                                                               You practice real math

Time is structured                                                                       You manage your time


The question parents need to ask themselves – is your child?






Imaginative/Critical thinkers


Growing Leaders, Inc., points out that “according to First Year Experience programs and our work with over 6,000 schools and organizations worldwide, we have reduced the list of highest predictors of student success (meaning engagement, excellent performance, and satisfaction) to what we call the “Big Five.”  The “Big Five” are:

  1. Extroversion
  2. Agreeableness
  3. Conscientiousness
  4. Neuroticism
  5. Openness to experience

When a student experiences these five realities they are most likely to graduate and excel in life:

Getting connected to the right people.  Students who fail to graduate or succeed in school are ones who do not engage with others outside of class or don’t get involved with activities involving new people. They become stuck and without a support system to motivate them to continue. Without support, there is also no accountability strong enough to keep them from quitting.

Possessing adaptability and resilience.  Research in the last decade suggests that adults created a fragile population of children. Because parents or teachers did not demand that young people overcome adversity or consequences were not leveled to their behavior, kids often become inelastic and unable to cope with life’s demands. A student like this would have trouble with transitions and the challenges of adapting to new situations.

Developing high emotional intelligence.  For years, educators often held the belief that the student with the highest IQ would perform the best and grow to become the most successful. It is now apparent; success is more about EQ than IQ.  A student possessing high self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, are more likely to graduate, excel and become a leader.


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