Where Families Find Support & Solutions

The School Solution: Consultants For College Bound Students In 2021

At The School Solution our specialty is finding the best environment to address your child’s individual needs. Educational consultants and academic advisors have had to adjust with the times in order cope with the huge changes since the pandemic hit almost a year ago this spring. It is not just instruction that moved online, but academic consulting as well. Although there has always been a need for academic consulting and educational advocates, now is the time to spread the word that help is available to find solutions for your child. Our mission at the school Solution is helping families find the best option for their child, and we pride ourselves on rising to the unique challenges of the day.  

The reality of the pandemic is continuing to affect the lives of many college bound high school students. In 2021 high school students have the added stress of navigating one of the most crucial points in their life. Now more than ever they need the specialized expertise of academic consultants to advise, advocate and make sense of the choices that they have to make. What works for you and your family won’t be the same for everyone. Things like location, tuition and special educational or therapeutic needs will not be the only things to consider this year. A trustworthy consultant should be your first priority to help you and your college bound student maneuver through the new procedures and polices that have surfaced during the pandemic- which will likely be around for a while.

Consultants Carry On: The Move To Virtual Consulting

Although the challenge to go completely online and “virtual” was formidable, at The School Solution we have always embraced technology as a way to supplement our work. We have recognized other ways to communicate with students and their families that don’t solely rely on face-to-face meetings or interviews. As the use of technology has become second nature to many people, these interchanges arte becoming easier and adaptable.

As any adept educational consultant knows it’s important to be able to pivot without disruption. Although there was a period of disorientation and isolation, students and families needed to be in contact with a knowledgeable academic advisor to help prepare for college and university. Not all of the questions were about things like dropping courses, or how to handle all of the new grading systems. Quite a large majority of families have needed to contact educational consultants like the School Solution for mental health services.

In the beginning of the pandemic no more teachers in a classroom seemed like a pass, however very quickly students lost relationships with clubs and other co-curricular groups, began missing friends every day, and experienced isolation and loneliness. Teenagers needed to learn how to cope during these unprecedented times, as did the new model for academic consulting.

With most college and university instruction being conducted online rather than in residence, how are students going to gain the full value of higher education? What will be essential beyond formal instruction and where is the best place for your college bound student to grow in a healthy and safe environment? There are many question and many reason to follow through with experienced professionals who have the means and abilities to provide you with the most current advice and information.

Colleges and universities have had to move from classroom to online instruction and will likely do so through the New year.  No doubt, it will take quite some time to determine the impact of this type of instruction on student learning. This pandemic will, however, force institutions of higher education to examine just what is most crucial to achieve their missions.

The questions abound: Are there advantages to online instruction? Are there disadvantages? Does this new approach alter the modes of future instruction? What is essential for a student to learn? What is essential for the “collegiate” experience? What is value added to the collegiate experience beyond the classroom experience? Can all these questions be systemically researched, or will they remain in the realm of speculation and personal opinion?

These questions and many more have been posed and will be posed by those who study higher education. There are many critics of higher education, including those who are dismayed by the cost and those who question just how much learning is actually occurring.

Check information sources – and limit exposure

For teenagers who are active on social media, supporting them to understand where their information is coming from can be vital.

Jane adds: “Don’t forget that your teenager may not think to come to you for clarification and may be getting their information from their friends and social media, information from dubious sources combined with worrying on their own is a bad combination.

 “Try to talk to your teenager, be honest about the limitations of your knowledge, we are all uncertain about the future, it could be very useful for you to shed doubt about those who claim to know what’s going to happen.

“Encourage them to check the sources of their information and to limit exposure, no one needs to frighten themselves with constant alerts,” she adds.

Think about what they can and can’t control

Susie says she does this a lot with her young clients.

“I have acknowledged their feelings allowing them the opportunity to speak of their fears and confusion. We have then looked at separating things into those they can control and those they can not. This cuts down their long list of worries obviously and so things start to look a bit more manageable.”

Draw on their strengths

Jo says its good to talk to children about their strengths.

She adds: “Draw upon skill sets and resilience built in the past and how your child coped or managed their emotions and how they are able to self-regulate, such as ‘when I feel sad I can’.”

This includes being able to calm yourself down when you get upset, to handle frustration without an outburst, to adjust to changes in expectation and to resist highly emotional reactions to something that upsets you.

Highlight the good – as well as the bad

Jane recommends being honest about the difficulties of the situation, but also talk about the positives of the current situation as well as the negatives.

She says: “It’s useful to highlight the good along with the bad, how many people are looking out for their neighbors, contributing to their communities, many teens are surprisingly creative and altruistic, encouraging this in them now may encourage them to be great people in the future.”

Encourage choice

“When stuck at home a major problem will be power struggles and the lack of autonomy,” says Jane.

“If you can encourage choice making, even in small steps like choosing what and when to eat, cooking for themselves, planning their day, that might help to ease tensions.”

Try to keep some structure

Susie and Jo both recommend trying to keep some structure to the day.

Jo adds: “Try to separate the day into different sections, helping out in the house, doing a bit of schoolwork, having down-time connecting with friends and having some fresh air and exercise. Children are good with timetables, drawing up schedules together to offer structure provides a focus, as long as it isn’t too regimented.”

Family activities

This may well be the most time that parents and children have spent in the house together, and so it could be the opportunity for doing some activities together.

“Playing games together as a family can be a fun distraction,” says Jo. “But not everyone has the patience or resources to do this.”

Learning to cope with boredom is a good thing

“Bored children can be bored – it won’t hurt them and if they are forced to think of something to do for themselves (that does not involve a screen) their imaginations can also start to bloom,” says Susie.

“Books can be discovered, music can be danced to.  And then of course, the wonderful world wide web can transport anyone to virtually walk among the animals in zoos, visit exotic places and provide information and entertainment beyond imagination,” she adds.

It’s ok to have a bad day

“If anyone –  a child, young person or adult has a day or so where they have just lost their mojo, feel a bit low and just want to sit around eating popcorn and watching a few films, will it really do any harm in the long run?” says Susie.

Professional support available

But if you’re very worried about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting your child or teenager’s mental health and wellbeing, there is support available for them to access.

Check what support your child’s school or college is offering. Some school counselors are still offering sessions through online platforms.

Susie says she is running a ‘virtual counseling room’ for her students. “They can drop in or continue their counseling sessions with me via phone or online and it’s working well,” she adds.

Selecting the right environment with the appropriate structure and supportive, professional staff is a critical decision with lifelong ramifications for your family.

The School Solution has the professional expertise to help you make wise, well-informed decisions that can positively affect your child’s future at this crucial time. Contact us today.

Testimonial

  As a child and adolescent psychotherapist, I have sought Karen’s guidance on a number of my more challenging cases over the years. When outpatient treatment reaches a standstill and/or the child or teen has engaged in self-destructive behaviors (e.g., drug or alcohol abuse; school refusal or failure; suicidal ideation or gestures, et al) Karen…

- John Palen, Ph.D., LCSW
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