Last week, I had to sign off on the schedule that my daughter has chosen for her junior year of high school. We sat down with my husband and evaluated as a family why she made the choices that she did. We talked about workload, interests, extracurricular activities, and activities that she was involved in outside of school. Junior year is critical because it is the last full year that college admission decisions will be based on.
I could tell that she was really anxious at the beginning of the conversation. After our discussion, she was more relieved. Why the change? It was because I had given her perspective. We talked about her choices including subject matter and content, projected homework load, interests that she has that may lead to selecting a college major later on, and what her favorite classes and activities are. The college selection process is actually a very good way to get to know your teen better.
It’s exciting to be going through this process with my third and final child. However, I feel anxiety too. I have concerns about my child just like every other family that I have helped through the process. Are we making the best decisions for her? Preparing for, selecting, and paying for college is filled with anxiety for everyone. High School Graduation is a major transition in a teen’s life and figuring out what the next step should be is complex.
There are 3 key things that parents can do to help:
Stay Engaged In Your Teen’s Life. Maintain that balance between letting go and staying involved. Talk about the importance of making good decisions. Parents can give perspective especially when teens make mistakes. Give them advice and make them aware of options so they can work through difficult situations. Helping them work through things now gives them the ability to do things on their own later.
Focus On Your Teen’s Needs. I have often spoken with teens who feel stressed that they are behind. Avoid comparisons. Don’t waste the high school years trying to turn your teen into what you think the ideal college application should look like. Focus on the needs and happiness of your teen. The best fit college is a balance between academic, cultural, social, and financial needs.
Review Your Teen’s Overall Academic Plan. Teens change and so will their academic plans. Review workloads. Each teen is unique and every year there are an increasing amount of educational options in school and outside of school that can be used to ensure that your teen thrives.
Every teen can be successful! Start with your teen and help them discover what things truly matter to them. Most of all – “Enjoy the Journey!”
Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens provides educational services for teens, tweens, and parents. Our services give teens the tools and parents the information to help teens create a path for college success.
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