I was asked to write something about how we prepare our children for college for a different venue and decided to double dip and get a blog post out of it as well.
Yet, having now written and deleted three different attempts at writing this, I find it is a little bit difficult to say exactly what we do/have done. Perhaps this is because we never made the focus of our children's learning in high school to be about getting into college. Sure, I kept an eye on the transcript to be sure we had the bases covered as to what was expected, but that was a more of a book keeping issue rather than a learning one. What my children learned or are learning in high school was a combination of what we felt a well-rounded person ought to know and what they were interested in. We never made the end goal of high school to 'get into a good college,' but made it more about the learning itself. We don't test... we don't grade... but we read and discuss and develop broad and varied interests.
Of course, there are some skills we try to develop in our children: time management, responsibility and follow-through, knowing when to ask for help. These aren't necessarily skills just for college, they are skills which help with all of adult life. I don't know about you, but a still feel as though I am developing these skills. They are life long projects.
I'm guessing that when people ask the question of how they should go about preparing their child for college, they are thinking in much more academic terms. What should they student study? What papers should they write? What classes should they take? How many activities should they be involved in? How many books should they read and what should they be?
And you know what? I don't know.
I don't know the child or what they are interested in. What is good for one of my children may not be good at all for someone else. My own children haven't even all read the same books in high school. There are a few titles that have overlapped, not because of some inherent importance, but because I tend to recycle curricula when I can. There just isn't one formula to create a child who will succeed in college and if someone tries to tell you there is, they're lying (though they might not know it.)
Of course, you will also have to decide what constitutes 'success' in your book. Is it graduating something cum laude and all A's? Is it a child finding their passion and their life's calling? Is it getting by to get the degree and then pursuing life far outside academia? Or is it getting a job with a big salary? This is where you will have to start. What is ultimately important? With that answer in hand, it will inform every other decision you make, including how to prepare your child for college.