Help your child transition from high school to college

Preparing your child for college is one of the biggest steps you’ll take as a parent. Navigating all of the need-to-know information can be exigent and overwhelming. From high school to undergrad, below are five ways to facilitate a smooth progression.

1) Use your resources, delve into the existing curriculum

High schools function with a college preparatory philosophy-that attending college is the next natural step for youth. One school that takes the importance of a solid education and a desire to learn earnestly is Northridge Prep in Niles.

“Amidst the ever-increasing pressure to professionalize and specialize the educational experience of adolescents, Northridge has found that the best college preparation for its students lies within a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum,” said Richard Meyer, headmaster at Northridge Prep. “Unlike a vocational or technical curriculum, which emphasizes specialization, we believe that a liberal arts education is one of the best ways to prepare for a variety of professions.”

Not only is there a strong academic program of study at Northridge Prep, but also dedicated faculty members take the time to write out personalized college admission recommendation letters for their students-something that many high school teachers would be more than happy to do for their students.

“In addition to doing extensive prep work for the standardized college entrance exams, our students also receive practical instruction on university life–from the big picture of choosing a college and a major to the day-to-day of getting along with roommates and establishing meaningful relationships with professors,” Meyer said.

2) Listen and learn

Many universities have created a plethora of opportunities for potential students to encounter campus life first hand. Northwestern University in Evanston, for example, offers a 45-minute admission information session, which covers basic overviews of the university and all of the undergraduate schools. The application and financial aid processes and student life questions are also addressed. A 90-minute campus tour is available for students to get a lay of the land. Finally, students may visit a class or stay a night on campus in a residence hall to get a feel for what the college experience would be like.

“It’s a good idea for students and their families to visit as many colleges as they can. It’s important that the students ask themselves, while they are standing on campus, if they see themselves taking advantage of what that college has to offer over the next four years and if they see themselves participating in the different clubs and organizations and being an active participant in the university,” said Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate admissions at Northwestern University.

3) Study skills

Disciplined study habits are crucial for excelling in college. Cramming the night before an exam is not the best option. Learning to study incrementally long before the test date is key. Keeping track of test dates, using appropriate study tools like flashcards or mnemonic devices, taking advantage of tutoring assistance or calling on a professor for help will increase the chances for a better test score.

4) Homesick blues

Leaving home and venturing out solo can be intimidating, lonely and daunting. Call, mail care packages, conduct Skype chats-utilize any appropriate and socially sensitive options in an effort to connect with your child and offer support.

5) Encourage healthy decisions

Most people have heard of the freshman 15, a warning that refers to the pounds that new students have the potential of gaining during their first year of college. Encourage your child to make smart food choices, stay hydrated and maintain an active lifestyle. Many universities have extra curricular intramural sports, gyms and campuses that are conducive to walking.

“At DePaul we strive to provide our students with a world class recreation facility, programs and services. The Ray Meyer Fitness Recreation Center gives DePaul students access to top of the line fitness equipment, excellent fitness classes and personal trainers,” said Chris Nasti, assistant director of fitness and wellness at DePaul University. “We also offer drop in sports year round. Our goal is that every student on campus feels comfortable engaging in some form of regular physical activity.”