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The 1 Skill College Students Wish Their Parents Had Taught Them

A survey of 1,502 college students reveals the vital skill they are lacking.

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Parents, teachers, and coaches dedicate their days to preparing kids for the challenges of life after high school. They devote countless hours to ensuring that kids can score high and perform well in today's cutting-edge world.

But there's one set of valuable skills adults aren't teaching kids—emotional skills. And perhaps those are the most important skills of all, because no matter how smart or athletic a child is, that child will never succeed without mental strength.

What college students wish their parents had taught them.

A 2015 nationwide survey of 1,502 college students revealed that 60 percent wished they had gotten more help with emotional preparation for college.

Emotional preparedness includes the ability to:

  • Take care of oneself;
  • Adapt to new environments;
  • Control negative emotions or behavior; and
  • Build positive relationships.

The students also revealed they felt too much emphasis was placed on academic preparation for college. Despite all of the effort that went into ensuring they had appealing transcripts, their lack of emotional skills impaired their academic achievement.

The survey revealed that young people who felt the least emotionally prepared were more likely to have lower GPAs. They were also more likely to take a leave of absence after their first term.

Without adequate skills to cope with uncomfortable feelings, they were also more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to help them numb emotional pain. And despite the fact that the majority of students were struggling, 45 percent of them felt as though "everyone has college figured out but me."

Emotional challenges reach beyond academics.

The college students who participated in the survey said their stress reached far beyond academics—so it's likely that young people entering the work force or the military may also be lacking the mental strength they need to successfully join the adult world.

The respondents found it "extremely challenging" to make new friends, handle their bills, be independent, and keep touch with family and friends.

Teach kids how to be mentally strong.

Parents are so focused on making sure their children have every competitive advantage possible that they're not allowing kids to make mistakes, experience failure, or face natural consequences. Instead, parents are bailing them out when they're in trouble, rescuing them from discomfort, and solving their problems for them.

Consequently, we're raising a generation of emotional wimps. And it's not the kids' fault. It's the grownups who are so focused on test scores and athletic performance that we've forgotten to teach kids the basic skills they need to become mentally strong adults.

No matter how high your child's SAT scores were, what good will that do if he's too anxious and stressed out to stay in college? And how successful will your star soccer player be if she can't manage her anger on the field?

It's hard to raise mentally strong kids in today's world. But it's time to listen to what young people are telling us—we aren't helping them build the mental muscles they need succeed.

And while it's never too late to teach your children emotional skills, the earlier you start the more time they'll have to sharpen those skills before you send them off into the adult world.


The Harris Poll. (2015, October 8). Students Who Feel Emotionally Unprepared for College More Likely to Report Poor Academic Performance and Negative College Experience.

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