Ways to support your child’s mental health and college search process in 2021
To your high school student, empty classrooms, practice fields, coffee shops, and libraries in 2020 still translate to a lack of or limited social interaction, shattered dreams, and uncertainty about the college search and admissions process, Their concerns, anxiety, fears, and depression are real. As a parent, you might feel helpless and unsure about how to support your student’s mental health as well as their college search process.
Here are a few practical steps you can take:
Give everyone their space
We all need ‘alone’ as well as ‘family’ time. No matter how young your student is, it’s important to give them privacy and uninterrupted time to do their schoolwork and connect with friends through social media. As you work from home, it’s equally important for you to have your own workspace that you can walk away from at the end of the day. Create a ‘family time’ schedule and ask for everyone’s input. Play games, watch movies, share meals, take long walks and laugh together. Your high school student may not know or say it, but they need the stability only you can offer.
Check your emotions – you are your student’s role model.
How you handle challenges and stress will decide how your entire family handles it as well. When we feel stressed, hopeless, or trapped, those personality traits we try to keep under control rear their ugly head. That is true for all your family members. Whatever uncertainty you are feeling about your student’s academic future can put pressure and unrealistic expectations on him or her. It’s important to remember that they do not have access to their school’s faculty or resources to help them navigate your expectations. Be patient. Make sure your expectations for your student are realistic. Be open and honest about how you’re feeling. Apologize when needed.
Help them break down the college search process
High school students spend so much of their time dreaming and planning for college with their teachers, counselors, and coaches. With limited access to these experts and information, it’s easy for students to feel overwhelmed, anxious and hopeless about their future.
You can help them by breaking down the process into smaller steps and asking them to tackle them in the following order:
1. Ask them to make a list of ten colleges they like to consider attending. You can make this less overwhelming by giving them a few guidelines related to the college search process, such as price range, location, type of sports division, and university size. For example, ask them to consider two community, three in-state, three out-of-state, two private, and one ivy league college. For a FREE college comparison worksheet, contact us with your email. Give them our chart and ask them to record their findings.
2. Ideally the college search process involves campus tours, but now look for virtual ones. Thanks to the pandemic, this looks different now. The good news is that your student can take a virtual college tour to help them create their list instead of waiting for live tours to open up. Although these tours are not the same as being on the college campus, they are immensely informational.
3. The pandemic has also changed some of the admission process requirements. Ask your student to go online to determine if the colleges on their list are test-optional or test blind. This information is available to those currently in 10th grade and above.
4. Encourage your student to make a list of subjects they like as well as dislike. They should also make a list of things they enjoy doing. With their list in hand, have them visit the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration to discover potential career paths.
5. Make a college ranking list. After collecting all the necessary college search information, encourage your student to rank the colleges based on their career choices and order of personal preference.
Structure fosters a feeling of security
Before the pandemic, your teen had a very structured routine that gave them a feeling of security. Encourage them to create and maintain a healthy daily routine of waking up, being productive, and going to bed. Your student can be productive by completing their schoolwork, engaging in the college search process, applying for scholarships, and improving their college profile.
It’s important to remember that adults have far more tools and experiences to help them deal with challenges than children and teens do. We’ve designed our Essential Package to help your student in the college search process and help them discover their best career path matches. Contact us today for more information.