Their Success Is Your Success
When I was a college student, I always thought getting good grades was just for me. Now that I’m a parent paying the bills, I see it a little differently. My kid getting an A is also for ME!
Their success is my return on that tuition investment. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to know what they are doing each day to be successful. What’s Their Plan?
Their plan is also my measuring stick. When they tell me they aren’t making grades, I’ve got the checklist. I know what to ask. Are they doing the things they need to do to be successful?
This stuff isn’t hard in theory. It’s just them putting it into practice that’s hard. You have to do it at work, so please do it in school.
Just imagine for a minute that instead of wanting money for college, your kid wanted you to give them money to start a business:
Hi Mom and Dad. I have a great idea for a business.
I need you to give me $40,000.
You want R-O-I? Return On Investment?
Are you CRAZY? It’s MY business!
No, I don’t want a LOAN. Just GIVE me the money!
You want a PLAN? A BUSINESS PLAN? Stop annoying me!
Oh, and by the way, I’ll need $40,000 each of the next 3 years too.
Sure kid, no problem. Any investment guy would go for that, why wouldn’t we.
You might as well have already had this conversation. The fact is that thousands of parents are launching their kids off to college every year totally on a wing and a prayer. They are paying tens of thousands of dollars each and every year without even a discussion about how they are going to succeed. The plan for success is hoping that there isn’t failure. Not a good plan.
Parents often don’t even think about it. Hey, why worry – the kid did great in high school, I’m sure they’ll do fine in college. Then it doesn’t work out that way. The time to be thinking this one through is BEFORE the grades come out or they are talking about quitting school.
I’ll say it again – College is a business. They’re the owner. You’re the investor. Who gets burned when they fail?
College is their business, but it’s my business too. I don’t mean harass them. I mean help them.
Knowing their semester study plan is how I help them.
Do You KNOW What They’re Doing?
The hardest part for a parent is not really knowing exactly what their child is doing at college. I don’t mean the parties, I mean the study habits.
They arrive at school and before long they call you in a state of complete frustration. You ask them the normal questions. Of course they give all of the right answers. They say they are studying. They say they go to class, take notes and understand the material. They say they study for the tests. They just don’t know how they got that ‘C’.
Frustrating discussions ensue – It’s too hard; I have too much to do; I don’t have enough time; I don’t get it; I don’t like the professor; the professor doesn’t like me; The other kids are smarter…..and, on and on.
You never really have the answer because you don’t know yourself. You try to encourage them to stick with it and study hard and somehow they’ll get it sooner or later.
They Need More Than A Pep Talk
To their credit, they DON’T know why they got that ‘C’. The fact is, they probably are trying. They sincerely want to succeed. They just feel overwhelmed by it all. It is hard – emotionally and academically – especially for freshmen. They are used to doing things a certain way in high school and those methods don’t transfer well to the increased workload and difficult concepts that they experience in college.
Unfortunately, they aren’t doing much to help themselves out. College students are winging it – almost all of them. They are trying to guess every day what will work for them. They don’t have a consistent set of habits or a systematic way of studying day in and day out. They continually get behind and they can’t seem to figure out why.
They don’t use their time efficiently. They waste precious minutes during their day not realizing that it costs them hours later. They study in their dorm rooms surrounded by relentless distractions – all before the 100+ text messages they receive and send each day. They’ve never been allowed to write in their textbooks and they don’t know the right way to take notes.
Worst of all, when it comes time to study for exams, they waste their time looking at page after page of stuff they already know. They aren’t focusing their precious remaining time on only the things they don’t know. Why wouldn’t they? They’ve never learned otherwise.
The personal freedom that they now have compounds the problem. Without you there to guide them, it’s easy to get off course. Frustration always leads to procrastination. Why bother doing things that make you uncomfortable?
Kids certainly still get A’s, but they stress themselves out more than necessary and they don’t learn the material as quickly or as deeply as they could.
The sad thing is that just a few simple changes can make all of the difference in their free time, their stress and most importantly, their final grade.
So What’s The Plan?
I’ll give them the money. I’ll do it without a loan. My stock is THEM. That’s all I need to see grow.
What’s my Return On Investment? It’s an A. Just get the A’s. Maybe just getting A’s isn’t the full measure of life in college, but it’s my measuring stick. It matters to me. It matters to the Admissions Department when they want to get into grad school. It matters to the Hiring Manager when they apply for that job.
I always tell my kids to take the hardest classes and do the things that others won’t do. So maybe they won’t get A’s every time. The football team doesn’t win them all either. That’s OK, – I just need to know two things: 1. You had a plan, and; 2. You worked the plan. Just like the football team. Think maybe THEY have a game plan? You better believe they do.
Your Kid Needs a System
Kids need a system – a consistent, repeatable set of actions that they follow day after day, week after week, for their entire college career. One that they know they can rely on, that works, and that delivers results.
They need a map that is clear in their mind – a specific guide that leads them to where they are going and shows them how they are going to get there. You know what you have to do, how long it is going to take, when it needs to be done, and where you are going to do it – each and every day. No surprises.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – getting A’s in college is easy. Look at what you need to do. Figure out how much to do each day. Remove the distractions and get it done – effectively – in a way that speeds retention and review. Just make a plan and get it done. Simple – IF they are programmed to do these things without thinking about it.
When they know the right road, then they also know subconsciously when they are off in the wrong direction. There is no more confusion. That sense of direction moves them back in a positive way. They begin to develop and follow a consistent set of behaviors because they know that they work. When something starts to back up, when they feel stressed out – they know specifically why, where, and how to fix it. They don’t think about it. They just do it.
Kids make all kinds of excuses about why they are having problems in school. Whatever they say probably isn’t the real cause of their frustrations. They likely don’t really don’t know what the problem is. They are doing a whole bunch of little things wrong that all add up to one big problem. You can show them the path. All they need to do is follow it.
Parents Need A System Too
What about YOU? How can you possibly guide them or address their frustrations if you don’t have any idea what they need to be doing?
The time to agree on a path to success is before you drop them off at school. Ask them – How are you going to be successful in college? Specifically – what are they going to do on a daily basis to learn the material effectively, in the shortest amount of time, and with the least amount of stress? I assure you, they won’t have the answer. “I’ll just study really hard” is what you’ll hear. Maybe, maybe not.
That isn’t a plan and it most certainly isn’t a system.
As soon as your kids have their schedules, you need to sit down with them and go over it with them. You need to block their time as I have shown here. You need to cover their class work, their athletics, their personal family issues and create a plan for success. Go over their workload and get them thinking in terms of how much they need to get done each day. Break it down. Do it with them.
Walk around the campus. Go look at the library. Discuss the how, what, when and where of the way that things should be done. It’s their business, but early consulting from you will make all of the difference.
When you do leave, at least you know they have a plan. Best of all they know that YOU know the plan too.
Ask Them Some Questions
The benefit to parents of doing things this way is that it creates tangible evidence of productive behavior.
Next time they call, ask them some very specific questions.
I created a checklist for the students to use to make sure that they are operating in a consistent, systematic way each and every day.
I have also created a checklist for parents. It’s simple – it is the exact same checklist that I created for the students. Download it.
When you sit down with your student to go over their grades or discuss their frustrations and anxiety with college, use the same checklist. When you do, you won’t be wondering what the problems are. You can identify them very quickly.
Simply insert the words ‘Did you….’ in front of each item on the list. They know what you are talking about because you already covered it with them.
The purpose of your checklist is to guide them; to encourage them. To help them understand the reasons that these habits are important for their success.
Cover each item. Take the time to discuss WHY each one is important.
The Answer Is In There
When the grades come out, go through the checklist again. Make it your standard procedure. The answer to less than an ‘A’ is there somewhere.
You may start to annoy them so much that they’ll actually start doing it.
Remember, you’re shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for them to hang out with thousands of single coeds; drink beer; go to frat parties and sporting events; drink beer; workout in amazing gyms; and then drink more beer – all for 4 consecutive years. All they have to make grades. I hope you’re with me in not feeling their pain.
They need to get it done. It’s just business. Their future and our money is riding on it. You can be the guide, but they need to do it.
So go ahead. Send them this site. Print off the checklist. Sit down and talk to them. Explain to them how they can succeed in college.