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Goedeken: Introduce your kids to college

Goedeken: Introduce your kids to college

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Basic conversations about the importance of going to college and the reason of going is linked to learning skills and knowledge to prepare them for a future career are key ideas to bring up early and often. College may be daunting or intimidating, particularly if no one else in the family has attended.

It is important to explain that college can mean different things for different people. Consider using the word “college” to be an easy way to explain that some people can go to college for a short term to do a certification program or to a two-year college or a four-year college and beyond. Explaining the general options is a good way to make college seem more achievable to youth unsure if they have what it takes to be successful in higher education.

The conversations with students to consider attending college after high school are changing. As educators and parents, the main focus of encouraging students to go to college needs to shift towards the importance of getting an education in any subject area, including a specific trade or skill is beneficial versus encouraging obtaining the highest amount of education possible. While earning many degrees is admirable, that may not be the goal for every student. Help them learn the benefits of earning a skilled or technical degree and how many jobs are available locally with this kind of training and their earning potential.

Here are some ways to introduce the idea of going to college to your student:

• Simply drive through a college campus both locally and when visiting a larger community. Having a visual idea of what a college looks like is helpful for students of all ages.

• If you went to college, talk about your experiences with your student.

• If you did not attend college, discuss how that decision has impacted your life.

• Encourage your student to sit down with you and research online the different areas they could study in college. Watching videos and looking at pictures will make this experience come to life.

• When your student is old enough, encourage their participation in camps and other activities held on college campuses.

• Don’t wait until their senior year of high of high school to visit a college campus as a family. Consider visiting several campuses over the course of their high school career.

Jill A. Goedeken is a University of Nebraska Extension educator-4H and youth development. She can be reached by phone at 402-563-4901, by email at, or by Twitter @JillGoedeken. To learn more about 4-H at, follow them on Facebook at or on Twitter at


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