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Fostering Teen Success

Your teen may be academically ready to move on to college, but are they mature emotionally and psychologically? At home, they are surrounded by their family and friends. Once they leave their support system, will they still be able to thrive in their new surroundings?

In the book,The Stressed Years of Their Lives, authors, Hibbs and Rostain identify eight key components of social maturity that are considered predictors of college success:


Is your teen ready to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions? For example, if they are caught cheating on a test, do they own it and understand why there are consequences, or do they make up excuses?


Are they ready to take over routine tasks? Can they wake up on their own? Can they complete their chores and make and keep appointments? Do they know how to rearrange their schedule, if needed? Are they able to demonstrate these skills in different environments?

Interpersonal skills

Are your teens ready to make friends, deal with roommates, and find healthy social activities? One of the biggest challenges at college is navigating friendships and dealing with roommate conflicts and romantic relationships. Young adults with learning differences or social-interaction difficulties add another level of challenges. The impact of social media further complicates social relationships.


Can your teens resist temptation? When going off tor college it can feel like a free for all. They can stay up late, go out with friends, eat whatever they want, and play video games all night. Sounds simple, but do they know when and how to say no to staying out late, when there is a paper due the next day?


Are they ready to cope with frustration, disappointment, and failure? Can your teen tolerate distress and find their motivation after a setback? Learning how to “hang in there” helps develop inner strength.

Risk management

Can they have fun without taking too many risks or engaging in the use of substances such as drugs or alcohol? Remember that the immature development of the late adolescent brain contributes to “risky decision-making and reward-seeking drives”. Keeping communication open with your teen is essential in helping them navigate the decisions they make or want to make.


Can your teen accept their faults and tolerate their mistakes without too much guilt or shame?

Open mindset/Help-seeking

Often teens see setbacks or failure as shameful. Asking for help is a sign of strength and maturity. Encourage your teen to ask for help - whether from a friend, teacher, or parent - since it is an important life skill. Maturity in adolescence is a work in progress that takes time and patience. These eight points should be developed over time and used as a framework for giving teens the skills to navigate the road towards adulthood.