High School: College Application Process - Helping Your Teen Cope

A Stressful Procedure for Both Teens and Parents

For teens, applying to college gives rise to natural anxieties: the process itself is long and involved, with a whirlwind of tasks, details, and deadlines, throughout which the teen feels pressured by others' evaluations and feels fierce competition. Moreover, "success" - in this case, acceptance to a school - is something of a double-edge sword in that it symbolizes the beginning of the end: of high school, familiar settings and friends, life in the family home, even adolescence itself.

For the same reasons, the process is stressful for parents too, since it is difficult to watch your adolescent face such uncertainty and struggle. You also have increased responsibilities as you coordinate college visits, struggle with financial issues, and oversee other administrative aspects of the process. Moreover, you have to contend with your own, naturally ambivalent feelings about the upcoming changes when your child finally moves out of your home.

A Positive Learning Experience

But there's an upside; one of the great keys to a successful life is learning to see the advantages inherent in difficult situations. This is an ability you no doubt hope your child will acquire, and the college application process can be viewed as an excellent opportunity to practice the skill. Viewed this way, the college application process can be seen as a valuable learning experience that will pay off many times over as your teen traverses adulthood. For instance, the college application process is an excellent opportunity for your teen to learn how to organize and carry out a complicated project, maintain optimism in the face of uncertainty and stress, and appear poised during evaluative interviews - all crucial skills for any profession!

What Can I do as a Parent to Help my Teen Cope and Thrive During this Process?

Sitting down with your teen during a calm moment before the process begins and asking: "How can I help you best?" With that, you open a dialogue and can negotiate whether she/he wants you to be: hands-on throughout the process (e.g., helping him get organized, reminding him of deadlines, reviewing and critiquing his work), or act as more of a safety net (e.g., involved only if your child explicitly asks you or is in very obvious need).

Remain relentlessly calm and optimistic. It is especially important during this time not to let your child's anxiety become your own. Becoming over-involved, complaining about the process, screaming at a college counselor, doing work that the teen should really be completing on his own - all unequivocally reinforce for your child the notion that this is a negative, overwhelming process ("look, mom can't handle it either!").

Be the voice of reason. Help your child to remember that there is NO such thing as the perfect school - all have their advantages and disadvantages, from "top choice" on down to "the safety". Reassure your child that you understand her anxiety, but of course she can get through this process - hundreds of thousands of kids do it each year and she will be no different. Be ready to remind your child (with specific examples) of her past successes when she is feeling especially down - times when she wrote beautifully, successfully completed a difficult project, or presented herself well.

Help your teen to see the fun and excitement that are just as much a part of this process as the anxiety and stress. Show him how to be excited about his endeavor by going out on a special shopping trip to buy all the supplies he will need to keep himself organized in the coming months (remember how much fun "back to school shopping" is each year?). Help him set up the special place where he will complete most of the work involved in the applications. Acquire a large calendar that can be posted on the wall, and assist him in marking out deadlines and developing a list of what tasks will be completed when. These sorts of activities will help him to break down what can seem at first an overwhelming amount of work into a series of small, doable tasks. As an added incentive, schedule rewards for each major deadline he meets (e.g., dinners to celebrate when he completes his essays, planned "days off" when he has completed other specific tasks, etc.).

Maintain your sense of humor. Laughter and good times together make any experience bearable.

If you have questions or concerns regarding colleges and the application process, you may wish to consult with the college counselor on campus.

If you have concerns about the stress and anxiety your son or daughter is going through, you may wish to consult with the Outreach Concern counselor on campus.

Information has been compiled from various educational and counseling resources

Elementary School Family Life

Helping Your ADHD Child Succeed in School

Going to school is often a time of apprehension for a child or teen with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Students with ADHD face many challenges at school both academically and socially. Yet, as this diagnosis becomes more prevalent there is more and more information available as to how parents and teachers can help ADHD students succeed in school.

It is estimated that approximately 20% of children and adolescents in the U.S. have a diagnosis of ADHD. It is nearly ten times more common in boys than girls. Though the symptoms vary widely from child to child, some of the common characteristics include: distractibility, restlessness, confusion, and impulsivity, problems with sleep and coordination, difficulty paying attention, and difficulty organizing and completing work. Because of these problem areas, it is imperative for parents and teachers to work together. Early and open communication among students, parents and teachers has many benefits. It decreases the amount of time it takes for a new teacher to work effectively with your child or teen. It helps the school to understand your child or teens difficulties so his/her behavior isn't seen as a problem. It also provides an opportunity for your child or teen to deal with their ADHD and learn to speak up for themselves. Designing a plan specific to your child's needs can aid in their academic and social progress.

Here are a few ideas to help this process:

Get educated on ADHD and what it means for your child and your family.

Provide your child's teacher with good information on your child's diagnosis and areas of difficulty.

Let both the teacher and school administration know if your child or teen takes medication and what time of day it may start to wear off.

Be open to suggestions and feedback from their teacher.

Discuss on a regular basis any progress or difficulties your child or adolescent is experiencing. For example a weekly work chart or behavioral chart that both parent and teacher sign.

Help older children identify in their own words how their diagnosis affects them and what helps them learn best in the classroom.

Encourage your child to speak with his/her teacher about their difficulties and what helps them best.

Set specific, realistic goals for your child.

Be involved with the management of homework and school projects.

Review assignments with your child.

Break assignments down into parts and help your child learn to organize and prioritize.

Help to teach your child self-management.

Give positive feedback for assignments completed in a neatly, timely manner.

Keep a structured routine for homework, snack time, dinnertime, TV time, etc.

Get your child involved in extra curricular activities such as soccer or karate, etc. These are good ways to burn off excess energy and promote self-esteem and self-discipline.

Recommended Books:

"Helping Your ADD Child" - Author: John F. Taylor, Ph.D.

"Give Your ADD Teen A Chance" - Author: Lynn Weiss, Ph.D.

"Putting On The Brakes" - A workbook for children and teens with ADHD. Authors: Quinn, Stern & Russell

Information has been compiled from various educational and counseling resources