Stress About College Choices?How to Help Your Teen

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Does your teen stress about college choices?  Like many teens, deciding on which college to attend upon graduation from high school can be an extremely difficult decision.During the senior year of high school, your teens may spend countless hours researching possible college choices.

College considerations include the academic rigor, the courses of study that are offered, the cost to attend, the location, and the social scene.  Add to those considerations, competition is becoming more intense, so there is no wonder that teens stress about college choices.



During the second half of your teen’s senior year in high school, the stress levels can increase dramatically as the waiting period begins.  The applications have been filed and now there is nothing left to do but wait.  However, waiting can be the most challenging part of the college selection process.

Like most high school students vying for a spot in a respected college or university, the competition is fierce.  If your student is competing for admission into one of the 8 Ivy League Schools or MIT, your teen will be competing against 300,000 applications.  That number represents a 40 percent increase over the past 6 years.  Harvard accepted 772 students from 4,231 applications (18percent) for the class of 2016.

The stress about college choices doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon.  Extra curricular activities, cumulative grade point averages, leadership positions, and community involvement are all part of the mix.  Many teens are running themselves ragged just to compile a resume that can compete against the many other students applying for the same college admissions slots.

As a parent, you can help with your teen's stress about college choices.  During the college search process, be realistic with your teen about what institutions would be a good match.  You know your teen’s personality, interests, and academic abilities.  You know how much money you can spend on higher education costs.  You know how far away from home your teen should travel to attend college.  Put these considerations into the mix from the beginning and you are more likely to have a better time sorting through the college choice maze.

Categorize college choices into three levels.  Select one or two colleges that would be a reach for your teen to attain admittance.  Select three colleges that are competitive choices, based on your teen’s high school academic and activities records.  Finally, select one or two colleges that are a safe bet for admittance.  Talk to the guidance department for advice on these selections.

Your teen is probably going to have a few favorite choices.  Flexibility is key here.  We can’t emphasize that enough.  We have been through the college selection process with our sons and it was crucial that they understand what their choices represented.  We reviewed with them whether their first choice was worth the heavy price tag.  What kind of college degree would they receive and what were the chances of getting a job upon college graduation.  They chose schooling that was rigorous but would offer the most opportunities for them in the long run.

Teens stress about college choices because it is one of the toughest decision they have made so far in their lives.  As parents, keeping an open and honest dialogue can help diffuse the stress levels.  Your kids, like mine, probably worked hard to get where they are today, having experienced some bumps along the way.  Stess is a part of it.  But every teen is different and unique.

Make certain your teen knows that and doesn’t succumb to the pressure of making a decision based on popular trends.  Find ways for your teen to enjoy that last semester of senior year by participating in school activities, finding time for friends and taking advantage of family time. The waiting game is difficult but time flies by and before you know it, your teen will be on a new adventure.

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