Tips of the Trade: College Readiness: Creating a Blueprint for Success

Tips of the Trade: College Readiness: Creating a Blueprint for Success

College success is a goal that most of us expect. Schools and families do their part to guide and counsel children towards skill building, good decision-making, and maturity. Notwithstanding these best efforts, many newly minted high school graduates struggle as they transition into demanding post-secondary environments. Some students transfer colleges, some take more than four years to graduate, and still others depart within the first year for a myriad of reasons including medical or disciplinary leaves.

How can the peaks and valleys of transition from High School to College be softened? How can those of us supporting students calibrate the focus onto holistic college readiness preparation?

At any point in the educational process, parents can identify challenge areas within which students will need help and create a plan of action around them. Tenets to consider are:

  • Emotional Maturity. This is indicated when one can self-regulate, deal constructively with obstacles, and relate to others in healthy, productive ways.

  • Academic Tenacity. Here, one’s beliefs, attitudes, and values prioritize school success and drive scholastic engagement.

  • Academic preparedness. This is the acquisition of skills and knowledge that facilitate learning at a higher level. Additionally, one illustrates the ability to exercise cognitive strategies necessary to thrive in college-level courses.

Operationalizing these tenets becomes the basis of a plan:

  • For each area above, develop specific, measurable, and realistic goals to work towards. Goals are most easily identified by considering areas in need of improvement.

  • Then brainstorm clear strategies and action steps for each goal.

  • Identify support team members in and out of school.

  • Establish a regular, consistent schedule for reviewing progress. Keep it short, simple, and adjust as 

Working on our deficits is an arduous task. Keep this in mind as you help your child hone their competencies. Be gentle with yourself and your child. Find times to take a break from “self-improvement” plans and seize the fleeting opportunities when adolescents actually want to spend time with you.

Elaine Morales Thomason, M.Ed., is founder of Emile Educational Consulting and a member of The Life Solution Center of Darien. She provides highly personalized consultation in the areas of traditional school and therapeutic placements, educational planning, and college advising. Elaine works with adolescents and young adults whose educational, emotional, and social needs are not being met by traditional approaches. Her clients range from gifted students whose talents require specialized attention, to students who struggle with underperformance as a result of a varying range of
disorders or difficulties. For more information, call 203-636-0080 or visit

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