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Planning for college can be stressful. How will you respond?

I hear all the time how stressful the junior year of high school can be and how the college process can be so stressful. I agree with those statements (mostly). But I also believe that it is a student’s (and parent’s) choice whether they buy into all the chatter about how stressful it will be. We forget that ultimately we are in charge of our own actions and it is our choice how we respond to “stressful situations.”

Everyone, not just students, has decisions to make every day. It is up to us whether to respond with anxiety and worry or whether to respond with a “give it our best shot” kind of attitude. We can decide how to respond to circumstances before they even happen. It is a mindful approach not only to life but also the college process and that stressful junior year.

When I work with students I encourage them to be positive and to see things from a different perspective. We can’t change what happened yesterday, we can live in the present, and make plans for how we respond tomorrow. Notice I’m saying respond and not react? I use this language intentionally. It is easy to join in the conversation about busy, worry, and stress. Let’s face it, adults are just as guilty of this as teenagers. And it is often difficult to change the way society (especially social media) influences how we respond to situations.

One technique that I find helpful when incorporating mindfulness into my daily life and encourage my students to practice this as well, is S.T.O.P.

Stop what you’re doing. (such as joining in the “stressful conversations about college”)

Take a breath. (or TWO!)

Observe what’s going on inside you and around you. (decide whether to respond or react)


It’s a simple technique to help in many life situations and circumstances. It isn’t an easy practice to start but the most important thing is that we try! The more we practice, the easier it will become! So, the next time you hear someone complain or share their stress about the college process, pause for a moment and S.T.O.P. How will you respond?

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