Question of the day (more like question of the month!): "I hate standardized tests. Can I still apply to college?"
Answer: Absolutely. According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, over 800 colleges and universities across the country do not use the SAT or ACT to admit substantial numbers of bachelor-degree applicants. Check out their website for a searchable database and more information about how colleges become "test optional".
Hoping to keep the upcoming holiday break the most wonderful time of the year for you and your college student? It’s easier than you think with a little proactive communication, goodwill, and cheer. Keep everyone happy and peaceful with these quick tips to remind your student why there’s no place like home.
Expect places to be, people to see…
Balancing time with family and friends during the holiday break is a test of patience and love for every family. Help your student navigate the long-awaited opportunity to reconnect with high school and hometown friends by discussing expectations for the break before it starts. Having developed and enjoyed a newfound independence at college, revisiting family routines and setting limits, including curfew, can alleviate tension and miscommunication throughout the break.
… and plenty of sleep in-between.
Outside of heavy socializing with family and friends, prepare for an exhausted student. Restful sleep and good nutrition may not have been plentiful these past few months, so expect a tired and hungry student eager for the comforts of home. Giving a day or two to rest and recharge can do wonders for students about to head into final exams after Thanksgiving or rebound from the semester in December. Be clear about house rules and expectations when it comes to sleeping in and staying out late. Clear communication, coupled with negotiation and compromise, will be your best bet to a peaceful holiday season.
Keep it jolly and light.
How’s school? Is your roommate nice? How’d you do on exams? What’s your major? The questions seem innocent enough but can feel overwhelming when students are still trying to figure things out for themselves. Declaring a major, sharing a room, and acing college exams are all rites of passage that require time and adjustment.
Given that the holidays are often a rare opportunity for extended family to catch up and share, prepare to balance a plethora of questions with reassurance and support. Not only will your student appreciate the positive response but they’ll also take note of your lead to make the break a great time to unwind and relax.
Be a great listener.
Remember September and all of the excitement and anticipation that went along with it? Those same wonderful feelings may very well continue into the holidays but could also include some unexpected twists and turns that can derail even the most confident student.
Once the initial period of excitement has worn off, it is very common for students to experience everything from bouts of homesickness and anxiety to periods of loneliness, isolation, and even mental exhaustion. For many students, the holiday break may also bring the first realization that their lives now exist between two worlds on campus and at home.
Should your student confide in you feelings of homesickness or a desire not to return to school or transfer, try not to panic. Feelings of doubt and defeat can accompany the transition to college, sometimes leading students to question their college choice. Remind your student that this period of uncertainty is actually a great sign that change and growth are taking place.
One last note…
Students in great distress or exhibiting difficulty eating, sleeping, or maintaining relationships merit closer attention - be sure to discuss your concerns with your student if you feel something is not right. College counselors and campus resources can assist you and your student to help the college transition become a successful one.
Are you a college (or high school) student coming out of midterms with less than stellar results? The final push of the semester doesn’t have to be about cramming. In fact, researchers say those long, suffering hours are not the way to go if you want to end a semester strong. For better results, try some of my favorite strategies based on science instead:
Are you struggling with time management, shifting from one task to another, or procrastination? Longer doesn’t mean better. Break study time into 20-40 minute increments with 5-10 minute breaks between each study session. Breaking down the course information and study time into smaller pieces helps the brain digest new information and can help you approach studying with less dread and anxiety.
Speaking of breaks, using a little down time to exercise is an excellent strategy to improve attention, processing speed, and memory (it all has to do with blood chemistry and circulation aiding cognition). A daily 20 minute run/walk can help boost academic performance and improve relaxation – a plus for anyone anxious about taking exams.
Throw in some tunes.
Music has long been advocated as a great way to boost everything from concentration and memory to productivity, while also increasing relaxation levels and enhancing mood. The trick is to listen to tracks paced at 60 bpm (think Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or check out Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports”). Tracks at this tempo activate both hemispheres of the brain helping information process more efficiently.
Change study locations and study in groups.
Forget a favorite study spot. Studying smarter requires alternating study locations to boost recall. Adding others to the mix furthers the effect – what better way to actively study than by discussing course content, problems, and solutions? Word of caution: Simply listening for the correct answers is passive, so prepare to perform as a team player in study group sessions.
Set the alarm and sleep.
Sleep is critical for memory and focus, so apply the “work by day and sleep by night” principle for optimal studying and testing. Cramming at the expense of decent sleep does not guarantee better results and can actually derail an academic performance. Especially during finals, be sure to dedicate regular time for chunked daytime study sessions and strive to keep a sleep schedule. Eliminating caffeine at least 3-5 hours before bedtime will help.
If you find this info helpful, please share it with your favorite college (or high school) student!
Counselor. Mentor. Dream Developer. I am a veteran college and career consultant helping clients of all ages prepare and perform for success!