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Preparing Your Child for College

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By Beverly S. Krueger

As parents, we all hope that our children will learn from other's examples rather than make the same mistakes it seems a percentage of college freshmen make every year. The temptations are many, running up enormous phone bills, maxing out the credit card financial institutions are so eager to give college students, or spending too much time enjoying college life and not enough time studying. So many traps to avoid while simultaneously adjusting to a new work load, facing an accelerated learning curve, and being introduced to new ideas, concepts, or beliefs. You hope that you've prepared your child academically to critically weed through the new ideas and maintain his bearing, but as the time draws near to see him walk out your door, you wonder if there are other resources to help him.


The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) is a non-profit, educational organization whose mission is to help college students understand the values and institutions that sustain a free society: limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free enterprise, and Judeo-Christian moral standards. ISI Books has published a series of student guides to various college disciplines. Each guide is a short introduction to the discipline with a focus on what to expect from college professors and the resources for pursuing the discipline from a classical, conservative perspective. Guides are available for US History, the Study of History, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Liberal Learning, the Core Curriculum, Economics, and Literature. Each guide is short, less than 100 pages. While the are of obvious use to the student interested in a particular discipline, they are even more essential for the chemistry student who must work his way through a series of humanities classes. We all want our children to matriculate from college able to discuss the important issues of the day with clarity and understanding. The guides for liberal learning and the core curriculum are especially important as they focus on getting the most out of a liberal arts education at the university. Reviews of each of the guides have been posted in our Product Reviews department. You'll find them all available in the Publisher section under ISIBooks.

Study Skills

If your homeschooled child has never taken a class at the local community college, they have yet to experience the typical college lecture. Some professors make noting very easy, but others follow no logical order, test over minor points while skipping points they spent much more time covering, or make it difficult to understand anything they say by mumbling or talking to the blackboard. Professors will give students a list of books they must read, several of which are no longer in print and must be read in the reserve room of the library. They may never mention these books in class, but they will still have questions on their content on the final exam. Other professors will require four eight-page papers. I can remember a literature professor who would teach a particular short story spending a great deal of time going over all the literary devices employed by the author and then require his students to write a paper about the short story which had to be based on new ideas not covered in his lecture. This was a daunting task for any college freshman. Fortunately, there are some terrific resources available to help college students with their note taking, test taking, essay writing, and organizing. A short list of study skill websites is available below. I'd also like to recommend a book that Renee Mathis, our former homeschool advice columnist, recommended in A Helping Hand column when answering a question about study skills for college students. She recommended What Smart Students Know. This book deals with learning to learn efficiently and was written to help the average student become a top student.

Study skills websites:

Managing Finances

Most teens today have a level of disposable income that I only dreamed of when I was their age. Food, clothing and shelter are all guaranteed by their parents, so the pay from their $6.50 an hour job can be spent on non-essentials. Soon these non-essentials become necessities. A $125 biology text or two later, and the money a college student had planned to spend on fast food or new clothes is quickly used up. That shiny new credit card is a real temptation. It's supposed to be used only in emergencies, but isn't this an emergency? Up to this point their money management has been based on buying what they had the funds to purchase. They've never experienced the need for self-control, because no one has ever allowed them to spend more than they actually had in hand. Larry Burkett has written an excellent book that covers all the essentials of money management for college students. In fact, that's what it is called, Money Management for College Students. This is a workbook that teaches kids how to balance their checkbook, deal with credit cards and make budgeting decisions. It gives them a peek at real life before life becomes too real. Again, it's a lesson we hope they learn from example rather than the school of hard knocks.

Social Pressures

Homeschool parents are often accused of sheltering their children. Critics are certain that once exposed to the rigors of normal societal interaction, they will collapse. There are a number of books written for prospective Christian college students with the intent of helping them maintain their Christian faith in secular society. Interestingly, these books weren't written for homeschooled students. They were written for all those high school students who have received thorough socialization in a public or private school. It's my experience that most homeschooled students don't go wild at the university. They've spent years becoming independent thinkers, while their peers our herded along in a system that requires conformity. I'd tell any homeschool parent the first order of business if this is your fear, is to relax. If that doesn't help, then purchase one of the following books for your child: College Bound by Kathleen Winkler, Faith at State: A Handbook for Christians at Secular Universities by Rick Kennedy, or How to Stay Christian in College: An Interactive Guide to Keeping the Faith by J. Budziszewski.

Books suggested in this article are all available in the Preparing for College section of the Eclectic Homeschool Resource Center.

Copyright ©  2002 Eclectic Homeschool Association

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