How to Build up Confidence Before Heading Off to College

College is a huge investment, not just financially but emotionally and mentally – for many students, as well as parents, planning for college can be a time of ambivalence. For many high school students, this is the first time they will live on their own, which also goes hand-in-hand with new responsibilities in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. If your child lacks confidence around the idea of starting college, you may want to start by reminding them that they aren’t alone and that this confidence can be increased over time.

How to Build Up Confidence for College

Celebrate Achievements

Enrolling in a college program is a step in the right direction, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without self-doubt or a need for continued positive reinforcement. Start small and celebrate this accomplishment over dinner or with a gift for your child’s dorm room. This type of positive reinforcement can also help your child stay on track when they are off at college and in the midst of midterms or final exam week. Of course, you will want to help your child make smart choices when it comes to spending money, but if your child gets an A on a challenging exam or research paper; a small treat like a latte or a song on iTunes can give them the extra boost they need when the next round of exams begin.

Take Inventory & Spend Time Researching

Is your child worried that they don’t have what it takes to succeed in a college level environment? Or are they simply worried about taking on a list of new responsibilities?

When faced with discouraging behavior, all your child may need is to participate in a short and self-rewarding activity. Take inventory of your child’s current strengths and aspirations. Remind your student of these strengths as they’re applying to schools to increase their confidence and reinforce the feelings they had when they decided to apply for colleges. Encourage your child to set achievable goals that incorporate these strengths so that they have something to look forward to and work towards during their first-year of college.

Take the time to research as much as possible so that both you and your child feel more comfortable about the college they are either applying to, or already enrolled in for the fall semester. Since the unknown can feel intimidating, the more you learn about the college through proper research, the more excited your child will feel about going to college. Here are a few places both you and your child can look to find more in-depth information:

  • Social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – are all great places to become more familiar with the campus community, and meet other incoming first-year students.
  • The official college website – the best resource for exploring admissions, academics, campus life, events and much, much more.
  • Big Future by The College Board – familiarize yourself with majors and learning environment, support services, sports and activities, and much more.

Summer College Programs Can Help to Build Confidence

What better way to prepare your child for the college lifestyle than to give them the opportunity to experience it first-hand? Pre-College programs, also offered here at the University of Vermont, give students a glimpse into some of the most appealing aspects of the college lifestyle before they even graduate from high school. To get an idea of what these programs are like, here is a brief introduction to UVM’s Pre-College Course:

UVM offers motivated students an academically challenging experience designed to bring out their best. Our faculty are gifted teachers who inspire students; where learning is not limited by the classroom walls. We encourage and promote many kinds of experiential learning. Every year, UVM places students in the country’s top graduate and professional programs and helps them gain jobs and launch careers. Students discover and hone their potential at UVM.

UVM Pre-College Programs offer many ways for high school students to:

  • Earn college credit while still in high school
  • Demonstrate their ability to college recruiters
  • Take a challenging or unique course not offered in their high school

If your child is still worried about making this academic transition, or they are concerned about feeling homesick; make a plan to come visit or vice versa. Sometimes all your child needs to feel confident about moving away to college is a support system and some positive reinforcement.