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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The Most Important Furniture Item for College Students

What’s the most important furniture item for college students besides the dorm room bed? It’s not the dorm room desk (since quiet library study carrels tend to be far better for intense and focused studying than a dorm room will ever be.)

The most important furniture item for college students is a two-drawer filing cabinet. 

Here are 7 reasons why a two-drawer filing cabinet (along with a little instruction on how to use it) just might be the most important item your child takes along to college.

the most important furniture item for college students

1. A two-drawer filing cabinet reduces stress for students.

Without a filing system, your son will likely pile important papers on the right side of his desk. This works just fine for two weeks, until the pile becomes a massive avalanche risk and just finding a necessary paper document becomes an energy-draining ordeal.

2. There’s great power in being able to locate any necessary document in under 10 seconds.

Your daughter will greatly appreciate this when she needs to quickly locate a housing request form, or all the handwritten notes needed to study for a tough midterm.

3. Even in the 21st century, not everything’s electronic. Students still manage a massive amount of paper during college.

This is especially true for students who follow my advice and take class notes using pen and paper rather than electronic devices.

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The Most Important Thing About High School? It’s Not Grades

Many families mistakenly believe that the most important thing about high school is getting good grades—so students can “get into a good college when they graduate.”

Not true.

What is the most important thing about high school?

In my work as an academic strategist, I’ve found that the most important thing about high school is forging the academic tools necessary for the college or vocational training that comes afterward.

 

I told one underperforming student this: “Imagine college as a place where you have to pound nails into boards, one after another, as fast as you can. Bam! Bam! Bam bam bam! High school is the place where you create your hammer. If your hammer’s put together sloppily out of string and glue and spitballs, you’ll find it difficult and exhausting and painful to pound nails in college.”

Can students “get good grades” and still miss it?

Too many high school students have figured out how to game the high school system enough to get decent grades while still not learning important skills, such as 1) putting away electronics and listening carefully in class, 2) taking thorough, complete handwritten notes, 3) seeking help when confused, and 4) using a calendar or a to-do list to make certain that assignments and test studying are done thoroughly and on time.

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The 5 Essential Elements of Wellbeing

In their book Wellbeing, authors Tom Rath and Jim Harter outline what they call “the five essential elements of wellbeing.”

Wellbeing

Think about your kids as you read this list:

Physical Wellbeing

Social Wellbeing

Community Wellbeing

Financial Wellbeing

Career Wellbeing 

I think it’s fascinating to look at what happens in the spaces where two or more elements of wellbeing overlap. There’s great joy, for instance, in having a career—however humble—that gives you financial stability enough that you can give money away to help others who need help with their physical wellbeing.

And for teens and 20somethings, even if they temporarily have very limited money and zero career stability, they can still increase wellbeing by partnering with others around them (social) to do projects that help others (community).

According to Gallup research, this can actually be a faster route to happiness than going to an Ivy League university! (See the article I’ve written on this subject here.)

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Why and How to Stop Multitasking

Reclaim Your Productivity; Increase Enjoyment of Your Time Off

On the surface, it seems as though multitasking would make a great productivity tool. After all, if you can book a plane ticket and quickly shoot off an email while you’re on a phone meeting at work, why not? Haven’t you just masterfully killed two birds with one stone? Shouldn’t you be congratulated for being a brilliant time manager?

Research says no.

multitasking

Multitasking will drop your I.Q. faster than smoking pot.

One study showed that workers distracted by incoming email and text messages saw a whopping 10-point drop in their I.Q.s.

What’s the effect of a 10-point drop in I.Q.? It’s the same as losing an entire night’s sleep, and more than twice the effect of smoking marijuana.

Multitasking slashes your productivity by as much as 40%. 

We delude and fool ourselves into believing that we’re getting more done by multitasking. In reality, a day of multitasking results in less accomplishment, less productivity, and at the end of the day, something perhaps worse than mere low productivity.

Multitasking skyrockets feelings of stress and anxiety, eating away at the enjoyment of free time.

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When to Call the College’s Disability Services Office

Are you parenting a college student with a disability of any kind? If you are, you need to know about the wonderful services offered by the disability services office on your child’s college campus.

disability services

Whether your child has a physical disability, a learning disability, a mental health disability, or any other kind of disability, the college’s disability services office will provide extraordinary, kind, supportive help.

“When should we first contact the college disability services office?”

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Can College Debt Hurt Academic Performance?

What Does the Research Say?

 

debt affects academic performance

There’s no question about it; the ability to focus and concentrate for extended periods is absolutely critical to college academic success.

In his outstanding book Deep Work, author Cal Newport says this about extended periods of focus and concentration: “Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. It’s like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy.”

Can student loan debt interfere with the focus and concentration necessary for doing “deep work”?

College students say yes.

In this article by college student Ashley Bulchandani on dailytarheel.com, she tells adults exactly how she feels. “As a current college student, I am personally struggling with college debt and paying off my loans.” She worries that, “debt accumulation can stress out students and lead to negative behaviors such as drinking, smoking, working a lot, and not focusing in class.” She points to research showing that, “excessive college debt results in overall low academic performance in college and low graduate school attendance.”

The happy news is that parents can help. A lot.

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Half of Americans Regret Their Higher Ed Decisions?! Why?

The last thing you want is for your child to make a series of expensive higher ed decisions, and then regret them later. How can you help your kids to avoid making regrettable higher ed decisions?

An Epidemic of Regret

Regret over higher ed decisions has reached epidemic proportions in the US. According to a June 2017 report from Gallup and Strada Education Network, 51 percent of Americans would change at least one of their education decisions if they could. This is an astounding, alarming, high number.

1/3 of People Wish They’d Studied in a Different Field

More than 1/3 of people — 36 percent of the report’s 89,492 respondents — would replace their field of study.

Most Shocking? How Many People Regret Their Liberal Arts Educations 

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1-Minute Trick Helps Overcome Laziness

You’ve got a mountain of work in front of you, but no energy to tackle it. You’ve already slept well and eaten energy-producing food, so exhaustion’s not the problem. You’re just feeling lethargic, avoidant, and lazy. We’ve all been there. Some of our kids seem to live there. Want change? A simple Japanese principle can help anyone overcome laziness in just one minute.

overcome laziness

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5 Questions to Ask Every Kid Every September

This article was originally published on September 12th, 2016. It was updated and republished here on August 26th, 2017.

There’s one thing parents long for far more than straight A report cards.

Parents want kids to do their own homework in a quality manner without the parent needing to prod, nag, oversee, or push.

Want to increase your chances of having academically independent children and teens at your house?

Ask each of your children these 5 questions every September.

High Grades

Before you have this conversation, be sure your teen has a calendar, planner, or special notebook for recording assignments and due dates. Then — keeping this particular student’s personality in mind — provide some individualized teaching on the subject of workflow process management.

5 Questions:

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