There is a certain feeling in the air as September approaches. A distinct chill suddenly appears in the mornings, the leaves turn brown and the bikinis are tucked away from another year. Back to School has always been a time for a fresh start, a literal clean slate or black page, but this year something is a little different.
My niece starts college this fall. I remember when she was born, and when she started elementary and even high school and it doesn’t seem that long ago. I remember that she was just starting school when my first daughter was born and that the gap between their ages isn’t really all that big.
And that has put me into a bit of a panic. If SHE is going to college this year, then MY own daughter will be going very, very soon as well.
I know how fast the last 3 years have gone, and I am
freaking out worried about how fast the NEXT 3 years will go. I mean, soon in two years my daughter will be starting high school, and my middle child middle school. In 5 years I will have TWO kids in high school…. and one graduating.
That is not enough time to prepare. . . or is it?
With my imagination going into a tailspin at the thought of one (or two, or THREE) kids in college at the SAME time, I decided that it was about time we got prepared for it, and not JUST financially!
So, here are our tips on how to prepare for Post Secondary… no matter how close or far away it is!
Build THEIR independence
I think one of the most important things we do as parents is raise our kids to take care of themselves. Their first big “real life” opportunity to do this is when they leave for college, and even though they are surrounded and supported, there are still a few necessary things they need to know how to do!
We already have our kids in the kitchen, learning the basics of food preparation and practicing a few basic recipes so that they have something to eat beyond the basic ramen noodle boxes. We also want them to take responsibility around the house by helping with the chores, including cleaning, laundry and basic “living” requirements.
Encourage THEIR savings
I am a firm believer that we need to personally invest into our future, and that while support can come from parents, we shouldn’t be responsible for ALL of it. We have savings for our kids education, but we also expect that they will contribute something, and have the means and ability to earn an income to support themselves when they are at school.
So, we get them started young. They can earn money by managing our farm stand, selling eggs and vegetables, helping around the farm on larger projects and our older daughter is starting to babysit. While these things may not be jobs they will do later, it is building the basic value of hard work and earning income in them at a young age, showing them that opportunities are there, if you look!
Talk about it
For us, “what are you going to be” is a common conversation topic. We often make suggestions and ideas to them about their future opportunities, based on their interests and are very transparent about the pathways to success. We tell them frequently that they CAN be anything, if they truly want it.
I want to make sure IF my kids go to post secondary that they go in with a plan. After working at a university for 5 years and seeing the money “wasted” on students who were there for general studies and with no idea of how they wanted to use their education, I am committed to keeping my kids out of the post secondary system until they know WHY they are there.
If they start thinking about it now, perhaps they will be more prepared to make smart choices later?
The real truth is this, we can NOT do it alone. We need support and help. We know nothing about how to find scholarships for our kids (which they will probably need) or well, I don’t know ANY of it.
I don’t know about student housing availability or costs. Or transportation, or the apps that can help them survive over their post secondary term. This is NOT my area of knowledge, but it is going to need to be.
This money saving guide will answer All your questions and help your kids enter their post secondary year with skills!
Start new hobbies
This one is for me. It’s a sad but true fact, when my kids start flying off to post secondary things are going to get REALLY quiet around here. I want to transition into this phase and NOT be the needy, desperate mom, waiting by the computer for them to come online so I can ping them about their day. I want to be BUSY.
So, while we get prepared for post secondary in a few years, I am also going to start finding some hobbies that can fill my day and make me busy enough that they will wait until I am online to ping me to TELL me about their day.
I know it seems a long way off, but the truth is it is getting closer and closer (and omg closer) every year. I don’t want it to sneak up and surprise me, and I want to make sure we are prepared and our transition is smooth. Wishful thinking perhaps, but just maybe with help and support and a bit of preplanning, we can make it happen.