There are only two months before school gets out for the summer and for high school seniors, a big transition awaits. What makes transitioning to college such a great experience for some students and so overwhelming for others? There is no simple answer. Certainly there are predictors of success, but often teens deemed likely to succeed fall by the wayside when they encounter the multitude of stressors common in college settings.
What essential life skills do we need to foster a confident college experience?
Clearly, effective parenting for the college transition starts years before your teens are picking out their comforters at Bed, Bath and Beyond. We need to create a home environment that encourages effective communication, intimacy, honesty, self-awareness, and the development of coping strategies for anxiety and stress. Effective parents help their teens develop academic and social assertiveness, problem-solving skills, financial literacy, comfort with diversity, and a healthy perspective on issues related to sex, drugs and alcohol. The resulting self-confidence will service them well in the challenging college environment of the 21st century as well as in life in general.
Over the next week we are going to highlight one life skill daily, with pointers for parents of teens and college students. You can truly empower them to be real about their lives and build the muscles for the college experience, and competent independence.
Maureen P. Tillman, L.C.S.W., is the founder and director of College with Confidence, a comprehensive psychotherapy service, with offices in Maplewood and Morristown, that supports parents and young adults through the college experience.