As of January 1, 2016, high school students may start applying to go to college at age 14. Is this a good idea?
High school is supposed to prepare students for college, right? But, does it really?
The latest national survey about college students tells us that most freshman were not prepared for campus life in one very important way: emotionally.
Harris Poll for The JED Foundation, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and the Jordan Porco Foundation conducted a survey called, “The First Year College Experience.” The survey results conveyed that 60 percent of college freshman students said they wished they had “more help getting emotionally ready for college.”
Being emotionally prepared for college plays a huge part in whether or not a student has a successful freshman year. The survey, which was completed with over 1,500 freshman students, revealed that the students who were less emotionally prepared for college experienced low GPAs and described their freshman experience as “terrible” or “poor.”
According to the survey taken, half of the students commented that they felt stressed “most or all of the time” and they were having a hard time making new friends, fitting in and just feeling like they belonged.
“We put so much intensity, energy and focus into ‘prepping’ for college by preparing for SATs, taking AP classes and visiting schools, but many of us miss a central part of the preparation project — namely, doing what you can to try to prepare developmentally for life away at college,” said Victor Schwartz, M.D., clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and medical director of The Jed Foundation.
Freshman students also said that they had high expectations of what college was supposed to be like because of the way TV, the movies and social media depict the experience; but, it was not as much fun as they imagined it would be. Because of the stress, students realized they needed to improve their time management skills and learn what it’s like to live independently.
Parents should step in early to help. “High school parents need to provide their kids with opportunities to manage their responsibilities with increasing independence,” said Marisa Giarnella-Porco, LCSW and President and CEO of the Jordan Porco Foundation. “Resiliency, problem solving, self-advocacy, and time management are only a few of the skills they will need as they move forward past graduation.”
According to Victor Schwartz, students in eleventh and twelfth grades should be taught more life skills, like sleep management, how to eat healthy, how to manage money, time and relationships, living with people from diverse communities, and how to deal with home sickness.
Homesickness is another aspect of college students said they were not being prepared, emotionally, to handle it.
A survey done by UCLA Higher Education Institute showed that 69 percent of freshman reported feeling homesick.
“It is likely that most students will experience some sadness and feelings of loss of comfort as they enter the college environment,” said Traci W. Lowenthal, a psychologist who has worked with college students for over a decade.
Homesickness has to be dealt with because it can make a student’s whole college experience terrible or even cause a student to quit school or not pursue any higher education.
Students get homesick because they feel a lack of security so in order to minimize the feelings of homesickness, a student needs to find ways of feeling secure in his new environment, which is the college campus.
“Avoid isolating yourself. Walk around and get familiar with the campus and surrounding areas, and find places you like to spend time,” said Erika Martinez, a licensed clinical psychologist in Miami. “It’s also important for the student to develop a ‘friend family’ of fellow students and other new acquaintances to take up the slack caused by the absence of parents and siblings.”
Kyle Bennett, from DeLand, Florida said he was really homesick after first attending college in 2008.
He said he cured it by getting involved on campus and developing a different routine.
“I was hesitant at first to get involved in different activities on campus, which caused me to develop a very routine schedule of going to class, coming back to my room, going to eat, coming back to my room. Initially it was a very boring experience,” Bennett said of his first year on campus. “Once I was pushed out of my shell (by my now wife) and got involved on campus, I felt that I developed a new ‘home’ of sorts.”