Are you and your high school children planning for college? If so, there are certain skills that are particularly important for them to acquire.
Study Skills. Students need to know how to manage their time and meet deadlines. The brightest student can still flounder if these skills are not learned. The successful college student also needs good note taking and study skills so that they can get the most out of their classes and homework. Provide your children with a planner to manage their time. Follow up to make sure they are completing scheduled tasks. Teach basic note taking skills. Then have your children put these skills into practice throughout their high school years.
Communication Skills. Strong communication skills will greatly benefit your children in any college major or career field. Focus on speaking skills, listening skills, and conflict management throughout high school. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, take a course in communications or public speaking, volunteer for service projects, join homeschool or parish clubs, etc.
Leadership Skills. The most successful students are often the ones who are also leaders. As Catholics, it is important that our children become people who are a positive influence at school and in the world. Encourage your children to be people of service, show them how to be a faith-filled leader, and encourage them to take on leadership roles in homeschool and parish groups. Teach by example and take on leadership roles yourself.
Writing Skills. It’s not enough to learn lessons taught in school. Students need to be able to communicate the lessons learned through writing. Strong writing skills are vital for college success. Begin with the basics (grammar, punctuation, vocabulary) for a strong foundation. Encourage creative writing for enjoyment. Make sure to include advanced writing (rhetoric, research, academic papers) in their senior year.
Critical Thinking Skills. Education should not be about cramming facts into children’s heads. It should be about giving them a love for learning and the ability to think. I highly recommend formal logic and philosophy to help your children think critically and therefore succeed in all their school subjects, as well as prepare them for life and grow in faith. Logic and Philosophy are not electives — they are vital to a core curriculum.
ACT/SAT Test Skills. To help your children get into the college of their choice, and get the best scholarship possible, find courses and resources on preparing for the ACT and SAT tests. Your children should learn how to prepare for the test, what to expect, and how to manage their time while taking the test. Latin studies should also be considered, for a variety of reasons including the evidence that Latin studies increase ACT and SAT scores.
Most Importantly — How to Evaluate Ideas through a Catholic Lens. In college your children will encounter many new ideas and assumptions. Some of them will be potentially damaging to their faith. Give your children the necessary tools to recognize and understand the worldviews they encounter and know how to articulate their own beliefs effectively and convincingly. Use books and resources that teach through a Catholic lens, demonstrating to your child how God is evident in everything. Use theology courses that will specifically prepare your student to defend his faith (apologetics) when he goes out into the world, as well as help him build a solid foundation of faith for his life.
There is one more skill set I’d like to mention …
How to Use Technology in Education: High school students should take at least one live, interactive online course to become familiar with the technology they’ll encounter in college. They need to learn how to be engaged participants in a live, interactive webinar and gain experience using online tools to collaborate with their instructor and fellow students. This is a skill set that will help them advance in higher education as well as the business place.
Focusing on the aforementioned skill sets in addition to your core curriculum (math, science, history, etc.) will prepare your children for success in college.
Copyright 2013 Maureen Wittmann
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