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5 Things Every Parent With a Kid College Kid Must Know

About The Author
Antonio Neves is a former first generation college student, Ivy League graduate, award-winning broadcast journalist, nationally recognized college success speaker and author of 50 Things Every College Student Should Know.

In these unique times, the stakes are higher than ever for college students. This time away from campus can lead to success or failure.

Even without global pandemics, it's estimated that nearly 30% of college students drop out before their sophomore year never to return to campus and graduate.
For those that do succeed, earning a college degree is a game-changer. College grads have not only landed most of the new jobs, they’re also earning more — as much as $17,500 more a year, on average, compared to those with just a high school diploma.

This is why right now is so important to ensure your kid stays on the right track.

Unfortunately, many students are going to use this time away from campus and struggle never to get back on track. However, others will come out of this stronger with grit, maturity and a new appreciation for their education.

To help students come out on top of this, here are  5 critical lessons (some that I share in my book 50 Things Every College Student Should Know) that will set your child up for success now and when they return to campus.

#1 CONNECT WITH ALLIES

Your child has a simple choice to make. They can surround themselves with thieves or allies. Both exist on college campuses and in life and they can be the difference between success and failure.
Thieves are people who will never encourage, support, or empower your child. They won’t positively challenge them. They won’t inspire them. They won’t hold them accountable. And they won’t push your kid to be the absolute best version of themselves.
Thieves are energy vampires that zap all of your child’s drive and ambition. Thieves always have drama going on. Thieves settle for mediocrity. Thieves can bring out the worst in of your kid.
On the flip side are allies. Allies are those people who always encourage, support, and empower your child. They positively challenge them. They inspire them. They hold them accountable. And they do push them to be the absolute best version of themselves.
Allies will give your child energy. Allies have great things going on in their lives on campus. Allies won’t accept anything but the best. Allies bring out the best in others.
For your kid, it will be as simple as thinking about the five people they spend the most time with on in person or on their phone and asking this question: “Do they make me better?”
Support your child in identifying the thieves in their lives and encourage them to create boundaries.
Empower them to find their allies and keep them close. Make sure that they are an ally to others.
Remind them to surround themselves with greatness.

#2 YOU DON’T CLIMB A MOUNTAIN BY ACCIDENT 

In this age of social media from Instagram to Snapchat to Facebook to Twitter, it’s important for your child to remember that success and confidence is earned.
To provide perspective, remind your kid what would happen to them if they were miraculously dropped off at the top of Mount Everest (a nearly 30,000-ft. altitude). They would take in the view for a second and then they would probably pass out, or, maybe die.
Why? Because their lungs have not earned being at that high altitude. It takes time to earn your way to the top even when it seems like others around us are already there.
This is the reason that the careers of reality stars tend not to last long. Two or three years after they win the big competition on television, they typically disappear.
Why? It’s not necessarily that they’re not talented or gifted. It’s because they haven’t done the necessary work to stay at the top of the mountain.
Confidence is earned.
This time for your child in many ways is a gift, a journey, to build this confidence so they can stay at the top of the mountain.
Encourage them to be willing to do the work to earn their way to the top. This requires faith, dedication, discipline, and on-going commitment. This way they won’t pass out when they get to the top, but instead take in the amazing view.
It’s important for your child to remember to not compare their life with another friend’s “highlight reel” they view on social media.

#3 REGULARLY FIND THE EDGE

“If you’re not close enough to the edge, then you’re taking up too much space.”

To grow and develop during the important college years, students must be willing to get uncomfortable.
The only way a muscle can grow bigger is by lifting heavy weights. When you lift heavy weights, your muscle actually tears. Then something miraculous happens — it grows back bigger and stronger.
“Finding the edge” for your child means them being willing to regularly get uncomfortable. They're doing this now in the midst of COVID-19.
If you’ve ever been an athlete before, you know that feeling you get before a game, match, or race begins when your heart starts racing and you get butterflies in your stomach? That’s finding the edge.
If you’ve ever been a performer before, you know that feeling you get before you take the stage when your palms get sweaty or your throat starts to feel dry. That’s finding the edge.
Encourage your child to regularly find the edge. That’s where the magic happens. Not sitting in your dorm room playing video games or Netflix, but rather by stretching themselves, getting involved, and finding creative ways to grow as a leader.
If your child doesn’t regularly get outside their comfort zone, odds are they won't grow, develop, and move forward in life.
They must push themselves to find the edge.

#4 BUILD A PERSONAL BRAND NOW

Open up a private web browser and Google your kid’s name.

What do the search results show? Is it actually them? Is it someone who has the same name as them? Is it something that they posted on social media that one day they’ll be embarrassed about? Or, does nothing come up?

The good news is that your kid can control search results by building a strong personal brand. Right now is the perfect time to do this.

The first step for them is to use a free web service like about.me to create a personal website. Once they build it, they can use the link in their emails and social media profiles.

Next, go to a website like register.com and buy your child’s name. It should cost you less than $15. Nothing is worse than someone else owning your name.

Help your kid control what comes up when someone Googles their name (like future employers) so they can be proud of what people find.

#5 CHOOSE EXCITEMENT OVER FEAR

Life can be an amazing journey with some days better than others.

In times like these, this journey can spark fear or excitement for your kid as they try and experience new things.
What they may not know is that fear and excitement are very similar emotions. And it’s up to them to choose which emotion to take on when they experience new things.
Remind them next time they find themselves fearing something new to take a breath and ask, “What excites me about this?”
Further, instead of regularly asking, “What if it doesn’t work out?”, ask, “What if it does work out?”

This small but important shift will allow them to focus on the many opportunities ahead of them after the pandemic instead of a laundry list of problems.

Antonio Neves is the author of the best-selling book, 50 Things Every College Student Should Know. Antonio is a first generation college student who earned a Masters degree from Columbia University.

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