Preparing for College and Beyond
Before your child ever graduates high school, you will already have had many conversations about what will follow. Even though your child may be an adult, they can still turn to you for guidance, wisdom, and a listening ear.
For many, the natural next step will be college. For others, it may be trade school, joining the military, entering the work force or taking a year off for service. Any of these choices should not be made lightly and may cause tension. It can feel overwhelming with the numerous options for schools, applying for scholarships, or recognizing that your child may pick a path with which you are unfamiliar.
After deciding on the next steps, you will want to prepare your child, as best you can, for their new reality in terms of faith practices, personal safety, and new experiences.
Begin by understanding that your hopes and dreams for your child may differ from the ones they have for themselves. As they share their vision for the future, listen to them and affirm where you see their gifts being utilized and lovingly question where you see concerns. Also, help your child understand that not everyone is called to the same path and invite them to pray about what God is asking them to do using the gifts and talents He gave them. You can pray for this as well.
As you recognize strengths in your child, do your own research about programs, careers, schools, or other options for your child to develop and utilize those skills. Being aware of those can help you navigate conversations with your child when they are looking for more direction or alternate options. Find creative ways to share your knowledge and wisdom so that it becomes a discussion and not a point of contention.
As your child chooses their next steps, remind them that everything we do in life should lead us to our common goal, heaven. Ask your child what is important to them in growing their faith and then look at schools, service organizations, or careers that help nourish that. For example, exploring what a college has to offer in terms of campus ministry (including a possible Newman Center or Focus missionaries) can have as much bearing on your child’s college choice as the academic program. Does it help to have family nearby (immediate or extended) to help them stay grounded and connected? This may impact what locations they consider.
Weekly mass attendance and spiritual habits often decline when not reinforced by family life so talk with your child about how they can keep up these habits and what they need to succeed. For example, if your child lives away from home, you may set up a weekly phone call to chat about what happened at Mass that week and how it was similar or different to what you experienced in your parish. Helping reinforce these faith habits also helps encourage ownership of their personal faith.
Leaving home or just having more freedom in their time and choices may be difficult for your child. Having more access to the internet, interacting with new people, or being exposed to different substances (alcohol, drugs, etc.) are all possible scenarios they may find themselves in. While you don’t want to overwhelm your child talking about all these subjects at one time, consider reviewing the information in this database to have ongoing conversations with your child about these topics to help them understand the difficulties these situations may cause and work with them to feel confident and prepared if they are facing a new situation.
Confused and want to learn more?
Learn more about Discernment
Learn more about Fruitful Conversation
Learn more about Internet Safety
Learn more about Substance Use
Learn more about Friendship