02/26/2015 06:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Prepare Your Toddler for College

In reviewing applicants, colleges are on the lookout for specific skills and accomplishments. You don't want to realize when your child enters kindergarten that you have not been building his resume. Start now!

Leadership Skills. Colleges revere leadership skills and toddlers are in a unique position to exhibit their ability to boss others around and to demand that things be done their way. Tantrums are behaviors that earmark future leaders. True leaders don't care what other people think. So hold that lecture on being nice and taking turns. That stuff is for wimps and colleges aren't looking for wimps.

Challenge yourself. You are going to have to compete for the rest of your life, so start now. Whether you are on the playground, applying to college or competing for a coveted job, there will be one ball and many players all trying to get that ball. Do whatever you need to do to get that ball for yourself. Forget teamwork. That's for sissies who don't have drive or ambition.

Community Service. Colleges spend an inordinate amount of time yapping on and on about the importance of community service. They get giddy when they see hours and hours of community service on college applications. But even more impressive is what they refer to as a "demonstrated commitment" to community service and nothing says demonstrated commitment more than beginning your community service as a toddler. There is no reason why a toddler can't pick up litter in a public park or on the side of a highway every week. Call it a scavenger hunt and make it fun!

Grades. Grades are possibly the most important part of a college application and the pre-school years are definitely not too early to show an aptitude for building with blocks or singing Happy Birthday, for example. Whether the report cards are based on letter grades or just glowing descriptions of the abilities of the childhood prodigy, save them for inclusion in the supporting documents section of the college application. The ability to play Hot Cross Buns on a recorder at an early age speaks volumes.

Extracurricular Activities. Don't squander your toddler's playtime by allowing it to happen absent a pedagogical objective. Toddlers should always play with a purpose. The purpose of every game should be aligned with learning a skill that will help beat out the competition. Hide and seek may be a fun game to play but the parents should encourage their kids to play hide, seek and destroy the competition. Keep the toddler's eyes on the prize. Acceptance into college is highly competitive. Toddlers need to realize that the choice is either them or someone else, even if both of them are still in diapers.

Sports. A recruited athlete may get a free ride from a college or at the very least, may get an acceptance letter with or without a financial incentive. So it is never too early to show some initiative and start a toddler sports team. Toddler rugby, for example. Telling a toddler to be gentle and take turns is really bad advice for the developing athlete.

Communication Skills. Whether you are at a college interview or a job interview, good communication skills are essential. As soon as your toddler is able to speak, encourage him to do something bad and then practice talking his way out of it. The ability to process information, organize facts and craft a cogent argument will prove essential later in life. So grab that other kid's ball and run with it.

Technology. A toddler should spend as much time playing on the computer and Xbox as possible. Multiplayer Xbox games can teach the toddler how to survive the zombie hordes alone or cooperatively. Although colleges emphasize the importance of teamwork and cooperation, don't be fooled. You apply to college as an individual not as a team and you get in or get rejected all by yourself. You get a job all by yourself. Cooperation and teamwork only go so far. Actually, not that far at all. Focus on yourself.

So ditch the admonitions to play nicely. Life isn't fair and nice is for suckers. Focus on the resume and tell your kid to toddler-up. The sooner your kid understands that reality, the sooner he can start to amass a resume of victories, conquests and other toddler superlatives that will knock the socks off of the college admissions committees.


photo credit: This one's for Dziadzi and Busia via photopin (license)