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Preparing to Send Your Child to College for the First Time: An Interview with Diane Kummer

February 18–22, 2013   |   Vol. 115, Programs 1–5
Originally Aired: Monday, June 22, 2009 | Vol. 90, Programs 21–25

“Let your teens make those phone calls to admissions officers to set up interviews. Have them request letters of recommendation from instructors. Give them more and more responsibility to interact with administrative staff, such as financial aid officers. This will build their confidence in solving problems on their own.”

There’s more to preparing your child for college than just the transcript and admissions process! This week on Home School Heartbeat, high school coordinator Diane Kummer joins Mike Smith to discuss the non-academic aspects of preparing your children to begin their college years.

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Reading, writing, arithmetic—and managing a checking account, choosing a church, and dealing with conflict? Well, succeeding in college goes far beyond academics. On this week’s Home School Heartbeat, hear some helpful advice for preparing to send your child to college for the first time.

Mike Smith: Today, I’m joined by Diane Kummer, a high school coordinator at Home School Legal Defense Association. Diane, it’s great to have you on the program.

Diane Kummer: Thank you so much, Mike. It’s great being here with you.

Mike: Diane, when homeschooling parents think about preparing their children for college, they usually focus on academic preparation—like building a high school transcript and taking standardized tests. But there’s a lot more to college than academics. Why is other preparation necessary for young people going off to college for the first time?

Diane: Preparation for going off to college is important, Mike, because teens will begin to make decisions on their own—perhaps for the first time. But I want to reassure parents that they should not be afraid of this new season in their children’s life.

Instead, parents should take time to lay out a plan. For example, use the entire college application process to acquaint your young adults with the skills they’ll need in college, such as interacting with professors or academic advisors. Let your teens make those phone calls to admissions officers to set up interviews. Have them request letters of recommendation from instructors. Give them more and more responsibility to interact with administrative staff, such as financial aid officers. This will build their confidence in solving problems on their own.

Mike: Diane, that’s very good. We’ll be exploring these topics more next time. And, until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: This week, we’re joined by Diane Kummer, high school coordinator at HSLDA, whose two children were homeschooled through high school and have graduated from college. Diane, many parents worry that their child’s faith won’t weather the spiritual challenges that come during college. What advice do you give them?

Diane Kummer: Well, first, parents should turn away from their worry and instead once again entrust their children into the Lord’s care and protection. He loves your children!

During high school, teach God’s word. Help your teens analyze current events in light of Scripture by building a biblical worldview course into their studies. Don’t be offended if your teens question or express doubts regarding their spiritual beliefs. Instead, see these comments as God-given opportunities for honest communication. When scheduling college visits, explore local churches, check out college ministries so that your teens can quickly establish friendships with other godly young people.

Last, I’ve got a personal tip. During the college years, I mailed my children a weekly hand-written note. They loved finding something in the mail box besides junk mail! I’d include a Bible verse to encourage or a quote to inspire them. As I dropped those notes in the mail, I prayed they’d walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. I was reminded my responsibility was to pray and to encourage. But, more importantly, I was reminded to place my focus on the Lord’s power to keep them and to protect them.

Mike: Diane, thank you very much for that helpful advice. And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Managing money during college is different from any other time of life. Students have a limited cash flow and may only work part-time hours. But financial stewardship is still important. Diane, what financial training should parents provide their high schoolers as they prepare to send them to college for the very first time?

Diane Kummer: Mike, we have several good suggestions for curriculum on the HSLDA website that parents may use to take a structured approach to their financial teaching. Teens should be taught to maintain and reconcile a checking account and savings account, set up a simple budget that records income and expenses, and to remember the importance of giving to the Lord’s work and to other people in need.

Also, think of practical projects that will sharpen your teen’s financial skills. For example, have them research the cost of owning and maintaining a car, also the cost of securing auto insurance. Parents should be aware that credit card companies target college students. Take time to have frank discussions with your teens regarding the trap of credit card debt.

Last, college is an expensive proposition. Encourage your teen to come up with ways to mitigate those costs, such as investing his own time to research and apply for scholarships. This will provide a better idea of the expenses involved and will hopefully result in your teen having a greater appreciation for his college education.

Mike: Diane, that is very good practical advice. And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Diane, what kind relational preparation can parents give their teens who are going off to college?

Diane Kummer: Young adults will need to relate to professors; other students; employers, if they have part-time jobs; also to resident assistants, if they live in the dorms; or possibly to landlords, if they live off campus. Teaching respect for authority, how to make an appeal, how to disagree in a gracious manner with those who have opposing views, and how to honor and respect members of the opposite sex should be teaching and training goals during the high school years.

Mike: What about the challenge of balancing their social life with their schoolwork?

Diane: Mike, now you’re talking time management—a skill that none of us ever outgrows! Set up a regular time at the beginning of the week to discuss items that appear on your teen’s calendar. Lead them in mapping out a workable schedule while ensuring that time is set aside for academic responsibilities, extra-curricular activities, personal devotions, development of a few quality friendships, and also time to serve others. Your teens will see that peace and harmony result from having their priorities in place. God’s not ungracious—He won’t give them items to complete without also giving them time and strength to complete them.

Mike: Good, practical, and helpful tips, Diane. Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Diane, college academics are very different from learning at home. What skills should homeschooling parents cover during high school to help their students succeed at college?

Diane Kummer: Most professors teach by presenting lectures. So one important skill to teach teens is note-taking. Have your teen practice this skill by taking notes during your pastor’s sermon, or perhaps while watching an educational video.

Research skills are another important area to teach your teens. Give your teens projects that involve using encyclopedias, films, atlases, dictionaries, magazines, newspapers, and, of course, the internet. Teach your teen how to take a major project or paper and divide it into smaller segments in order to pace themselves and not be overwhelmed.

Probably most importantly, teach your teens to meet deadlines and complete assignments in plenty of time to compensate for any last-minute glitches that may come up. The College Board website has wonderful free information on study skills you may want to use.

Don’t try to teach all study skills in one year, but, instead, decide on a few study skills that you may want to introduce or concentrate on during each year of high school.

Mike: Diane, thank you so much for being on the program again this week. And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

If you would like more information on this topic, please visit hslda.org/highschool.

Diane Kummer
Heidi St. JohnDiane and her husband Tom homeschooled their two children from kindergarten through 12th grade using a variety of teaching options. The Kummers' daughter completed her master’s degree in government and their son earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications/public relations. After her children graduated from high school, Diane helped to develop HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School program and website. As an HSLDA High School Consultant, Diane regularly speaks throughout the country at homeschool conferences and one-day high school symposiums where she shares from her experiences and her imperfect (but real) homeschooling days!

Diane enjoys writing articles (such as regular columns for the Homeschool Enrichment magazine), brochures on high school topics, and a monthly high school newsletter filled with helpful tips. She reviews new resources and provides personal consultation to HSLDA members by giving advice on high school planning, suggesting curriculum options, lending a listening ear, and reassuring parents they are on the right track as they head into the high school years. “The joy and grace of the Lord are available—and He has provided many avenues of care and help along the way,” she says. During her homeschooling years, Diane coordinated events, activities, and support meetings for her church's 190-plus homeschooling families while developing a program that provided evaluation of credits, diplomas, and transcripts for high school families. Along with songwriters, singers, and actresses from her church, Diane was involved in two videos created by the FunnyMoms to encourage and uplift homeschooling mothers. Her love for math is evident as she continues to teach high school-level math classes for homeschooled students.

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