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Don’t jump on that college admission anxiety train.

Do you hear the chatter? Ya know, that chatter about college. Chatter from teachers, parents, parents of your friends, aunts, uncles, cousins……

Where are you going to college?

What do you want to study?

What courses are you taking next year?

What kind of career do you want to pursue?

These are common questions my students get asked frequently at different times throughout high school. It’s no surprise our young people are tuning out the adults in their lives. They get bombarded by questions (and opinions) about their futures. (This is my profession and I’m guilty of asking some of these questions to my teenage nephews.)

It’s too much. It is no wonder that the rates of anxiety are skyrocketing in our country and around the world. There are more pressures than ever before with social media and we just add to it with our questions. We forget that these young people are only 16 years old. ONLY. 16. Years. Old.

It is rare that I have a student who is 100% certain of what they want to pursue as a career and actually follow it through until they achieve it. Often times they change their major in college because of an internship or another experience with a campus activity. And ya know what? It’s ok. They still become successful people in this world.

It’s easy to get sucked into the “drama” of college admissions and preparing for it.

“Oh, you’re a junior? That is the hardest year of high school. How many AP classes are you taking?” Have you ever heard that statement before? It’s just part of the chatter.

I want to encourage families to practice a little mindfulness. Yes, this is an important time in a young person’s life but it doesn’t have to own them and consume their every moment. It is important to practice keeping a level head throughout the college process.

It will not be earth shattering if a student doesn’t load up on 6 AP classes. If a student cannot maintain a healthy quality of life while taking these six AP classes, then we need to scale it back. It’s one thing to challenge one’s self but it’s another thing to take on too much that impacts quality of life and ultimately the grades. And quite frankly, it will impact the lives of everyone in the household if a student is too overwhelmed to handle the level of stress. Everyone suffers. Every student’s college journey is unique to them and will look different than their friends. It’s ok.

We need to set our egos aside and allow students to navigate the process in a way that is most beneficial to them. It’s similar to when I teach a yoga class. I have two rules.

  1. There are no judgments in the room.

  2. Check your ego at the door.

We need to do the same during the college process. Just like the title of Frank Bruni’s book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be. No truer words.

So, when you hear others getting worked up about the college process, don’t jump on that college admission anxiety train. The choice is yours. Your child and your family can choose to enjoy the process and have a good quality of life. Or just the opposite. Think before jumping on that train!

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