Is Your Student Ready for the Real World (and College)? 10 Ways to Know

As times change and the nature of the workplace shifts, it’s more important than ever that students understand how college fits into the overall picture of their adult lives. Here are ten things students can make a part of their planning right now.


1. They ask the question: what is the point of college?

What does your student want to get out of the college education? Knowledge? Connections? Experience? When students ask this question for themselves (and begin to explore meaningful answers), they will be prepared to set goals and make progress.


2. They consider the skills that schools are seeking in applicants

High schools and college applications often highlight abilities that they look for (like leadership skills, for example). What style of leadership is your student learning? In what types of unconventional ways are students exercising more subtle forms of leadership?

If you want to know what these skills are and how your student can acquire them, join us for our free event, Ready for the Real World (and College), by clicking this link.


3. They have started building skills that translate to many areas of life and work

In today’s world, most college graduates will have numerous jobs, over a range of different companies, environments, and perhaps even disparate industries. Your student must be working on skills now that will apply to any future work circumstances. Communication skills, for example, are essential to collaborating with colleagues or connecting with customers.


4. They seek out hands-on learning experiences

In order for a student to get the most out of a college education, they must have an integrated academic and experiential learning process. In other words, there is knowledge that they can take away from their studies, but it’s only through the practice of applying and exercising that knowledge that students can become effective in carrying out their responsibilities on the job (and develop the specific skills that qualify them for those jobs).


5. They are proactive

A student who is ready for the “real world” and college is looking for ways to stay organized and be a few steps ahead of the experience. A student who is unprepared would be more passive or reactive to their environment, perhaps waiting on others to define their experience for them and always.

Certainly it is useful to be able to “go with the flow,” but ideally, that attitude also involves adapting and taking action, not waiting for someone else to take action for them. As another example, a prepared student is seeking out opportunities for exploration wherever they’re available.


6. They understand the financial impact

Try viewing the college prep process as an opportunity for your student to learn to manage money, build credit. Students involved in college financial planning are almost always better equipped later to manage home ownership, investments, loans and large purchases.

This is not about making them feel guilty or trying to get them to act more “grateful”; involving them in the serious decision of the pros and cons to the cost of their education can help them feel involved, motivated and more clear on the other things that they will investing (such as their time).

To start off, if you look carefully at the ways that colleges put together financial aid packages, you and your student can see concretely how great grades, high test scores and achievement in other activities can pay off in the cost of attendance.


7. They have a thorough and flexible life plan

A student can get ready for the “real world” by learning about developing a flexible plan. This involves short term and long term goals relating to their professional, social and personal life, as well as answers to questions about themselves, and ways of taking action. We go through many examples of building a flexible plan during our free event Ready for the Real World (and College) - get the details here.


8. They make use of the resources around them in high school

Taking initiative to establish relationships with teachers, counselors, administrators, and even other students who do well. For example, maybe free after-school tutoring or opportunities for extra help with teachers over lunch periods could not only help your student’s grades but help them prepare themselves for thinking outside the box about ways to get ahead in the “real world."


9. Their goals have meaning to them

A plan won’t help much without a consistent reminder of the “why,” and an even bigger “why” than “why go to college.” When a student frequently “regroups” to remind themselves what matters, it will help them prioritize their actions, let go of what doesn’t matter, and stay focused on what does.

For example, if what matters most to them is the type of major that they want to have, it can help them keep an open mind about the location of the school itself. It may not be necessary to compromise and give up on that “top school,” but a student who thinks about what really counts when it comes to their goals will be more likely to pick a school for the reasons that make the work of finding the best school for them worthwhile.


10. They maintain a supportive community

It’s important to model this as a parent. Join parents like you and participate in our free workshop all about how to prepare your student for a successful and fulfilling life after high school. Don't miss out!


Hope to see you there!