All Posts Tagged: transition to college

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What Makes A College A Great Fit For You During The Pandemic?

This is the time of year when college acceptances start coming in. Right now, both teens and parents are feeling incredibly overwhelmed in the decision making process, due to the pandemic. When looking at acceptance letters, what is the best way to determine what makes a college a good fit for them? Is staying close to home now the top priority?

Choosing A College During Covid

Often, high school seniors have a favorite college or university in mind, which they hope to attend because they think is best for them. While this may not always be an objective measure of a good fit, it is important that your child gets to include this college in their process of narrowing down the top college choices.

Aside from this, a college can be considered a good fit if it:

  • Provides strong degrees in your teen’s chosen career field
  • Offers access to internships
  • Is made up of students who are on the same academic level as your teen (for example, they have similar test scores and GPAs)
  • Provides personalized, strong student support
  • Is regionally accredited, with a good reputation
  • Has full time faculty teaching first year and lower level classes, rather than part timers who may be stretched thin from working on multiple campuses
  • Is affordable to your family

This year, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has added another “must” to this list: safety. When choosing a college during Covid, be sure to research which measures the school has taken to ensure the health of their student community. Also check into whether the college is located in a Covid hot spot.

If your teen feels more comfortable staying home and attending college virtually, you can be assured they’ll be safer. There are a number of other factors to consider about attending remotely, however, such as:

  • Does online learning frustrate them?
  • Are they able to learn effectively with remote instruction?
  • Will they be able to find a quiet place to study at home?
  • How will they feel if they miss out on the “college experience” they will only get by being on a campus?
  • Are they motivated to do their coursework online or do they get distracted easily?
  • Will they feel more isolated due to the lack of social connections?
  • Once the pandemic ends, will they be okay with finishing their degree at that school? Your child should never choose a particular college just because it’s online. They should be satisfied with their choice if we were living under normal circumstances.

Are Virtual College Visits Important?

In the pre-pandemic world, in-person college tours were available to help teens make better decisions about which school was best for them. Due to Covid restrictions, however, many colleges and universities have either reduced or eliminated campus tours altogether. Instead, many are offering safer virtual tours.

The problem with a virtual tour is that they may not show you a real view of campus life. Instead, they could be more sanitized, like a travel video that only highlights the best housing and areas of the campus. You might only see certain places on campus, get a scripted version of college life, and only hear interviews from select faculty or students who will present the school in its best light.

A better choice, if the schools you’re deciding on offer it, is to sign up for a live, virtual guided tour. These remote visits allow the host to walk around the campus and answer your questions via a live stream, so you’ll at least get more insight into life at the school.

In addition, many colleges and universities are offering live virtual workshops. During these, you’ll to get to ask questions about their degree programs, financial aid packages, dining plans, and so on.

To get an overview of the current safety protocols or to learn how the college has communicated with students during the pandemic, your teen could also try connecting with current students on social media. By using platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, they should be able to find out whether the school is following CDC guidelines.

Wrapping It Up

Even under normal circumstances, it can be difficult to choose between colleges. This year, however, the pandemic has made college selection even more problematic. While your teen’s safety is a top priority, you must balance that with choosing a school that is also an academic fit, supportive to students, and a social and financial fit.

In addition, consider the college’s distance from your home. If it is far away, will your teen (or you) be comfortable flying back and forth on school breaks, assuming Covid restrictions are still ongoing? If they wouldn’t, it might be best to only consider schools within driving distance or those that are strictly online.

We Are Here For You

If your child is experiencing anxiety or depression due to the ongoing pandemic, we are here to help. For more information, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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college student studying

Anxiety Rises Among College Students During The Pandemic

Another year of college is in full swing across the country.  In an effort to control the spread of Covid-19 among their students, some schools have gone to strictly virtual learning. Others, however, are combining this option with in-person classes, which creates a higher chance of exposure to the virus. In addition, many campuses are dealing with students who flaunt social distancing guidelines and gather for parties, which spreads it even more. While many young people were eager to get back to college after being fairly isolated during the summer, we are finding that these seemingly reckless situations are negatively impacting the mental health of many students.

Earlier this year, the American College Health Association collected information for their Spring, 2020, National College Health Assessment. At that time, an average of 49.6 percent of the 50, 307 respondents reported moderate levels of stress. Another 24.9 percent said they were experiencing high levels of stress – and that survey only included schools who had begun their data collection prior to March 16, 2020, when many states began shutting down. Today, those numbers are much higher.

In fact, the results of a study done at nine public research universities across the U. S. and led in part by the University of California, Berkeley, Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), shows the incidence of major depressive disorder among college students has more than doubled since Spring, 2019.

Anxiety Symptoms

If your college student is suffering from anxiety, they will likely show some emotional or physical symptoms. Keep in mind that they may not have all these symptoms – they may only have a couple of them. It’s important to talk to your child if they are experiencing some of these concerns.

  • Problems concentrating on coursework (or in general)
  • Distress about their own health or the health of loved ones
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Trouble sleeping
  • An increase in the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
  • A worsening of mental health conditions they may already have

There are also physical symptoms of anxiety that may include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • An increase in migraines
  • A rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

Self-Care For Your College Student’s Mental Health

Sometimes taking a little extra time for self-care can help to reduce the mental health aspect of college life during the pandemic. We recommend your student try the following:

  • First, remember that the pandemic is temporary. At some point we’ll have a vaccine, the pandemic will ease, and life will become more normal.
  • In the meantime, it is good to stay connected with family and friends. Your teen can either do this in person (while safely social distancing) or they can keep in touch through a video application, such as Zoom or Facetime.
  • Know that it is okay to feel scared or angry, sad, homesick or anxious. But they should tell someone if they are feeling this way – especially if it has gone on for more than two weeks or if they seem to be feeling worse.
  • Limit online and social media time to avoid being sucked into the gloomy headlines that are so prevalent right now.
  • Set daily goals for completing assignments and tasks.
  • Maintain a routine – as much as possible, they should try to eat at regular mealtimes, get up or go to sleep on a schedule, do coursework on a schedule, etc.
  • Make time every day to do something enjoyable. It can be as simple as carving out time to meditate or do yoga, read a book for fun, or write in a journal.
  • Set aside time to get outside – fresh air, a change of scenery, and endorphin-releasing exercise can all help to rejuvenate the mind.
  • Look into a campus support group, which will help them feel less alone.

If these self-care measures aren’t enough to help your student with their distress, suggest that they reach out to their campus’ psychological services. The campus  counseling center likely can help through phone, telehealth or video platforms, eliminating the need for your child to visit the center in-person.

We Care

If your college student is struggling with the mental health effects of the pandemic, oftentimes it can help to talk with a children’s therapist. We are here with both virtual / online and in-person treatment options.

For more information about how our child psychologists can help your college student deal with anxiety about college life during the pandemic, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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