Going to college

Dear Dr. Linda,

My husband and I never went to college. We have three little kids, Ryan, the oldest is in kindergarten. Emma, six months old, is the youngest, and Jordan, our three-year-old is the middle child. We both feel that we missed out on becoming who we could be by not going to college. Our families didn’t push us, and I guess neither one of us ever met someone who would steer us in the right direction. We know many successful people who never went to college, and lots of people we know who did go to college are less successful than we are. But, in many of your articles you made the point that even though going to college doesn’t guarantee success, it can open up more doors. What can you recommend that we as parents should do so that our kids go to college? Wendy and Joe

Dear Wendy and Joe,

Remember that being a parent of a school-age child isn’t easy. At times you may have some unanswered questions and issues you don’t know how to handle.  When these challenges come up, you may need to contact a professional to help sort out the problem. 

In the meantime, these basic principles will help you move in the right direction.

  • Keep school in perspective. Yes, it’s your job to help your children get through school. But more importantly, it’s your job to help your children become emotionally, socially, and intellectually strong adults who are successful and independent. You want your children to be good people who have loving, caring relationships with you, other family members, friends, and eventually those they work with. So don’t overreact at every grade. Stand back and put it in perspective. There’s a college for everyone.
  • Be patient. Little problems can be addressed in a short amount of time, but big problems need time. If one of your children is struggling in school because of poor study skills, a physical disability, an emotional problem, or recent curriculum changes, know it may take time to correct the difficulties.
  • Promote positive self-esteem and good character in your children. These qualities are essential to growth and development. Accept, support, and encourage your children through your words and actions. Make them feel part of a family, a school, and a community.
  • Respect your children, just as you expect them to respect you. 
  • Be a good role model. Parents’ behavior affects their children’s development in and out of school. Kids first learn good behavior from their parents. 
  • Be a trustworthy parent. Trustworthy parents promote trustworthy children.
  • Let your children know you’re their ally.

Keep in mind that young people who feel valued and important can succeed in school and outside school. Your children need to be accepted by you for whom they are. They need to be supported and loved, even when they bring home a less-than-perfect grade or get in trouble at school. Learn who your children are, be patient with their weaknesses, and rejoice in their strengths. 

Follow these suggestions and you can look forward to lots of good things for Jordan, Ryan, and baby Emma.

Dr. Linda

Co-author of Why Bad Grades Happen to Good Kids and director of Strong Learning Tutoring and Test Prep, Inc. If you have any questions you’d like to share with Dr. Linda, email her at

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