College has so much more to offer than an academic qualification. Here’s a look at the skills your child acquires there that prepares him for the challenges life throws at him later.
By Susan Philip
Getting admission in a college is a milestone event in the lives of both parents and children. As the child enters the portals of higher education, both the student and his parents have dreams of high academic achievements and a plum job on the basis of that. But college is not just about getting a degree. It is a crucible that prepares young people for life, giving them a taste of independence and the responsibilities that go with it. It can be a life-changing and life-enabling experience, if the opportunities are properly utilised.
For many children, college marks a fresh start in life. The college system is far less regimented than school and gives students a chance to explore new disciplines and delve deeper into special interests. It offers opportunities to showcase a variety of talents and discover new ones. It helps them understand their strengths and their weaknesses, and, in turn, helps them find themselves. Following are some of the life skills your child learns at college that can help her later in her professional and personal life.
1. Time management: If your child must leave home to get a college education, the experiences he will have will be much more radical than when he is a day-scholar. He will learn how to manage his time without your guidance. He will learn by experience not to be late for breakfast at the mess, and to be in class before attendance is taken. He will learn to make sure he has clean clothes to wear and to keep his belongings safe. He will learn to judge when to devote his time to studies and when to take a break. He will learn the importance of personal hygiene and being presentable in company.
2. Money management:Money management is another important lesson that college life teaches a child, especially when she has to stay away from home. The experience of making the monthly allowance last till the end of month and limiting her expenses will make her appreciate the value of earning and saving money.
If your child is in the company of friends who have the habit of borrowing money or make others pay for their expenses, caution him against such behaviour and help him handle his finances better.
3. Organisational skills: College life gives your child the opportunity to participate in many activities like collective projects and assignments, as well as be a part of many committees and sub-committees, be it for cultural events or even campaigns for causes. This will teach her to be more organised and learn how to work in a team.
Also, some of these campaigns conducted by the college teach young people to care for the underprivileged and the environment. The insights gained from such exposure will prove helpful to her when she moves out into the wider world.
4. Multitasking: Students get to participate in a variety of activities because of the events and festivals that are conducted by the college throughout the year. Your child will learn to multitask and prioritise tasks based on which activity or project needs his attention the most.
However, this learning, at times, comes at a cost. It’s easy to get so carried away by a cause that academic commitments get ignored. He could also feel overwhelmed if he takes on more than he can handle. So, be aware of all the activities he is participating in, but let experience teach him the lesson he needs to learn.
5. Social skills: At college, your child is exposed to a more diverse group of people, coming from all walks of life. So, she gets to learn and appreciate diversity. It also teaches her how to mingle with people from different backgrounds and learn how to live harmoniously with them.
However, as parents, we often fear that our child may get into bad company in college. Subtly reinforce the values you hold dear and encourage her to stay true to them while not judging different lifestyles.
6. Self-reliance: Your college-going child may come across situations which will demand he speak up for himself, demand his rights and negotiate privileges without relying on parental support. This experience will teach him how to present his case effectively, deal with challenges and know when to back out of a complicated situation. These lessons will last him a lifetime.
7. Being responsible: In college, the approach to teaching is very different from that in schools. It will be up to your child to pay attention to lectures, submit assignments on time, attend workshops and seminars and contribute to collective projects. In short, she will learn to take responsibility for her own learning curve.
However, it’s easy for your child to slip up in his academic performance because of less supervision. Help him understand the requirements of research and paper submissions. Teach him to explore various facets of a subject rather than limiting himself to a textbook. Introduce him to the vast range of free courses available online.
8. Handling competition: Most children, nowadays, get to pursue the specific course they desire at the college level. However, they may find that the competition is much tougher as their peers may have a better knowledge of the subject matter. Learning to face competition and staying motivated despite setbacks is an important skill your child will learn in her college days.
In general, there might be a few hiccups as your child finds her feet in college. She will learn that she has to take responsibility for her choices, and course-correct as required. That in itself is a valuable lesson. Keep communication channels open between you and your child, so that you can foresee pitfalls, and advise her properly. Make sure that the degree your child earns at college is put to good use because of the skills she learned there as well.
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