5 Ways Parents Head Off College Anxiety

This article is for you whether you’ve got a high schooler or a college student experiencing college anxiety.

When Samantha was in 10th grade, her Dad offered her a great suggestion. “Sam, why don’t we get your guidance counselor to sign you up for some college classes for next year, and you take those instead of regular high school classes? You can get real college credit for them, they’ll still count toward your high school graduation, and best of all, our state will pay for them!” Samantha hesitated, nervous apprehension squeezing at her stomach and working its way up to her chest and throat. It was her first experience with college anxiety. “I don’t know, Dad—couldn’t I just take a couple of AP classes instead?”

Don’t let your child retreat into AP classes to avoid college anxiety.

AP classes are the least dependable way to earn college credit in high school.

Contrary to popular belief, AP classes are not typically “easier than real college classes.” Think about it. Would you want to study a subject for months and months, and then have your success or failure depend on performing well on one big test at the end?

And then, after all that work, you find out that the college you’ll be attending may not even accept your hard-won AP credit?

That’s enough to exacerbate even the mildest case of college anxiety.

Here are 5 ways parents can head off college anxiety. (Number 5 is a big one.)

1. Emphasize that college success isn’t about how smart you are, it’s about how organized you are.

Your son is worried that he’s not smart enough for college. All kids are. If you went to college yourself, tell him that you really started being successful at college when you learned to use a calendar and make lists of tasks you had to do. Emphasize that organization is something anyone can learn.

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