Today’s moms and dads are spending more time and energy than ever thinking about how to get their kids to — and through — college. Not to mention how to pay for it.

Parents have to concern themselves not just with the finances but with preparing their kids for the social, academic, psychological and emotional challenges of the college experience.

At Girl Scouts, how girls prepare for college and for life in general is rooted in a mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Based on our work with thousands of girls every year I can pinpoint five key ways Girls Scouts is helping young women prepare for their futures — in college and beyond.

1. Building Critical Thinking and Collaboration Skills

At Girl Scouts, girls learn to think critically about different issues and to solve problems together. Teamwork and collaboration are encouraged as much as independence and self-discovery. A Girl Scout learns to believe in the power within herself as well as count on her community for support. She works as part of a team, brings people with varying perspectives together to devise solutions and respects and appreciates the views of others as much as she does her own.

2. Managing Time, Money and Self

College requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline for the average 18 year old. For the first time in a young woman’s life, every hour is hers to manage. She is responsible for her money, her energy, her focus. Girl Scouting’s focus on purposeful activity and incremental success teaches girls the power of self-discipline, instills confidence and underscores what’s possible when one sets her mind on an objective.

Most people think of cookies when they think of Girl Scouts, but rarely do they realize that the cookie program is a mini MBA. It teaches girls about money management, goal setting, budgeting and decision making — all insights and skills helpful in shaping a successful college career and launching independent, adult lives.

3. Going Full STEAM Ahead

Girl Scouts offers hands-on, girl-centered learning in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), which can be a game changer for many girls. Girls explore their interests with fun, challenging activities like building robots, designing apps and video games, and collecting data to help scientists protect the environment.

The Girl Scout K-12 curriculum ensures girls of every age have exposure to concepts and skills underlying many high-demand careers that are significantly underrepresented by women.

4. Developing Social Capacity

College and the careers that follow require excellent communication, interpersonal, presentation and collaboration skills. Girl Scouting gives girls firsthand experiences forming bonds with girls who are very different from themselves and it lets them build, lead and follow in teams.

Girl Scouts alumnae are more likely to see themselves as leaders and take on leadership roles, according to the 2012 Girl Scouts Alumnae Impact Study, and those who were Girl Scouts for three or more years attained higher degrees than their non-Girl Scout peers

5. Building Perseverance and Resilience

Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low dedicated her life to encouraging girls to become self-sufficient. In today’s Girl Scouts, that means girls have the chance to practice different skills and challenge themselves to try new things. Girls learn that it’s okay to fail, and they learn to dust themselves off and get up and try again. Giving up is not in a Girl Scout’s DNA.

Girl Scouts provides a proven, research-backed program that helps girls cultivate important skills they need to take the lead in their own lives and the world — skills that will give them a good foundation for whatever their future holds.

Dawn Prasifka is the president and CEO of Girl Scouts — Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas and one of the leading advocates for girls’ leadership development in Arkansas.