Parenting Tips: What Your College Bound Teen Should at college first generation

Parenting Tips: What Your College Bound Teen Should Do after They’re Offered a Seat at the Table?

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Parenting Tips: What Your College Bound Teen Should Do after They're Offered a Seat at the Table?

Does your child have someone at their school that’s looking out for their best interest?  You know someone who might call you because your daughter wore a dress out of the house that is too short.  And the only reason you didn't catch it was because you either had to leave for work before she left the house for school or she changed into different clothes at the bus top.  Or perhaps you are lucky enough to have someone that will alert you if your son needs to apply for a scholarship or ask why they didn't see their name on the honor roll?  Oh, how I love to find people who will act in my children’s be interest when I am not around. It would be wonderful if I could transport people like this with my children when they go to college?
We realize that our children will need to be in the right academic track to get to college.  But they will need much more to get through college.  In the 21st century I am a part of the second generation of college graduates on both sides of our family.  The road through college wasn't easy for me.  First, I majored in biology at a majority White institution and found that I couldn't hang with the class speed and didn't know exactly where to get help.  My professors seemed cold and uninterested in helping me.  I didn't know how to make it known to someone that I needed help.  Secondly, I was one of a few Black women on campus in the science building.  There wasn't one place in that science building that made me feel neighborhood comfortable – like I was glad to be seen and I could go anywhere to get or ask where I could find help.  The only people that seemed to talk and treat me like the people I knew growing up were the administrative assistants or custodians.  Unfortunately for me, they wouldn't be the ones dishing out the grades.  Now I know that my experiences were not unique.  Studies have shown students of color to be challenged in academics and beyond when trying to attain a degree in science.  Many change majors after the first two years.  Recently, an African male student reported that his experience at Yale left him:
  • With an low GPA in his first semester.
  • Trying to fit in.
  • Reluctant to ask tutors, advisers or teachers for help.
I think about things like this when I see wonderful news like Kwasi Enin deciding to attend Yale (out of the eight Ivy’s he was accepted into), or the Jones triplets who also have a pick of the Ivy’s.  I wonder outside of academics how will they fare?  Ivy League or not, if our children start at a predominantly White college (and eventually in corporate America) we will explain to them that you can get a seat at the table but it doesn't mean that you’ll be asked to participate in the conversation.  We will also explain to them to not be discouraged, but instead learn the rules of the ‘table’ so their voice can be heard.  Hopefully, we will prepare them well and fingers and toes crossed there will be someone there to tell them anything we forgot.

What Kinds of Things Will We Talk About Before Their First Semester?

  • Knowing how to comfortably code switch between Ebonics and Standard English.
  • How to address a professor if they have a problem or need help.
  • Have them sit in on a few college classes.  Let them know that there are some professors that prefer to do all of the talking.  And there are those who thrive off of class discussion. 
  • Share the art of ‘skim’ reading for classes with heavy reading loads.
  • Explain the importance of being productive in between classes. 
  • What is a dorm resident advisor and how can they help if they have a problem with their roommate.


What do you wish someone would have told you before you went to college?

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