Organizing High School Students for College

So your son or daughter is finally done with high school and ready to move on to the world of college life and college dorms. But that diploma doesn’t guarantee that your child is prepared for college. Sure, they have the grades they needed, and all the required credits and extra-curricular activities under their belts. But what about their study habits? What about their time management techniques?

This will be the first time they are not living under your guidance. They will not have you to remind them about that project they mentioned last week, or about the earlier soccer practice time. Or have you to run to the bank for them when they run out of cash, or have you stop and pick up shampoo.

 Are they REALLY ready to handle the real world on their own? Here are some tips and products that will help them function in their new life as an independent college student.


  • Purchase a planner to record class schedule, homework assignments, testing dates, etc.
  • Allow at least one hour per class per evening for homework, then consider what other activities or employment can fit into your schedule
  • Use one planner for both social and school events so you don’t set up conflicting appointments
  • Attend classes · Get class assignments from the instructor if you are sick and will miss class
  • Make arrangements to hand in assignments if you are sick
  • Purchase a different planner if the first one doesn’t work for you—not everyone can visualize their days the same way


  • Check with coaches or team leaders ahead of time to make sure the activity will not conflict with classes  Limit activities the first semester—you can always join clubs later in the year once you know what your work load is.
  • Make sure you have transportation to and from any activity you join, whether it’s your own or provided by the school
  • Check the times and frequency of meeting dates or practices—are you willing to travel off campus on weekends if necessary?


  • Create your work schedule around your class schedule.
  • Education comes first, then the job.
  • Don’t work more hours than study time and class time will allow. Burning out the first semester may sour your view of college life, when it doesn’t have to be that way.
  • Make sure there is adequate transportation to/from your place of employment
  • Always notify your employer ahead of time if you need time off for class
  • Always notify your employer if you are ill and unable to work


  • Social time is important also—just don’t let it take up more time than education ·
  • Keep in touch with family and friends on a regular basis, even if it’s a quick e-mail or text message
  • Sleep is just as important as socializing—make sure you get plenty so you don’t compromise your health
  • Let your parents know your class and work schedules so they don’t call at inappropriate times


  • Contact the school BEFORE you shop to see what is and isn’t allowed in the dorm rooms ·
  • Does your college assign roommates based on study and sleeping habits? Find out ahead of time so you have the best match for your schedule ·
  • You may not get along with your first roommate. Everyone has to make adjustments. Just remember, you may be able to transfer to another room at semester break. But be prepared for the worst if you can’t
  • Know where the nurse or clinic is, as well as the hours, BEFORE you get sick. Then when you need their services, you’ll know where to go and when you can visit.
  • You’re on your own—make time for cleaning up your dishes or sweeping the floor


  • Write all projects in the planner
  • Set goals for yourself to complete the projects
  • Enter these steps in your planner as scheduled work time
  • Have a good balance of school and leisure time
  • Eliminate any activities that don’t serve a purpose
  • Figure out the best way to accomplish tasks using the least time, money and energy

The first year of college can be the most stressful. No one really knows until they arrive what life in the dorm is really like, and the experiences will vary for everyone. How your child reacts to them makes a big difference. And how your child handles the challenges will form them into well-adapted adults ready for the work world. No one can predict what will happen, but everyone can be prepared.

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