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Tips on Preparing Teens for College

Teens transition into adults and create a future for themselves when they go to college. At the same time, college brings with it many challenges and temptations. What advice can parents give their teens when they leave the nest to pursue education goals?

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Dr. Mindy Sloan, associate vice president of research and student success at Ashford University, who has four children ages 20 to 25, recommends reinforcing basic messages that children have been taught throughout life. "Support your teens by telling them they are smart and capable and that the transition into adulthood requires them to use their intelligence and make good choices," she said.

Be safe – College is a time of greater independence. Some don't know how to handle increased freedom and find themselves in unhealthy environments. Mom and dad won't be there to tell you to leave a party before it gets out of hand, to lock the front door, to keep your cell phone charged and to keep gas in the tank. Be alert to surroundings, keep your cell phone with you and know who to call if faced with an emergency.

Choose friends wisely – Find friends that have the same values and priorities as you do. Avoid people who are in college just to party and don't set appropriate boundaries. Be respectful, friendly and courteous to all, but selective about those with whom you develop close relationships.

Remember long term goals – A college education can bring benefits that last a lifetime. Remember that graduation is the goal. There may be times when you think a particular social event is the most important thing in your life. It isn't that important if it compromises the likelihood that you will achieve longer terms goals Get your degree now, and the other things will all fall into place later.

Set priorities and manage your time – There will be many competing responsibilities. Attending class is a top priority, as is completing assignments on time. Many students procrastinate and find themselves cramming for exams at the last minute. Create a schedule that begins with work, and then includes all the other activities that can help you be the best you possible. Set yourself up to succeed.

Maintain healthy habits – You must be healthy to be effective at college. The "freshman 15" refers to how commonplace it is for students to gain weight in the first semester, which is usually the result of too much fast food. Make a promise to yourself that you will eat and drink things good for you all the while maintaining at least some physical activity.

Manage money – Money, or the lack of it, is a major stressor for many college students. Perhaps this is the first time you've created and managed a budget. Determine how much money you have and how much money you will need for the costs of tuition, parking, books, food, gas, rent, and so forth. Know how much money can be spent on food each day, what must be put aside for later expenses and how to pay bills. It takes good planning.

Call home – College can be one of the best times of a student's life.  But take time to reach out to family and friends. The sound of your voice, a simple text message, or a quick email can make all the difference. As much as everyone wants you to succeed, they do miss you.

About Ashford University
Where heritage meets innovation – that's Ashford University. At Ashford, students discover relevant degree programs, innovative technology, and cherished tradition. Ashford offers associates, bachelor's, and master's online degree programs, while the Clinton, Iowa campus offers bachelor's programs. Whether on campus or online, Ashford students enjoy the same supportive community. For more information, please visit,,, or call Shari Winet, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.