What pressures are students experiencing upon heading to college, and how can we help?
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Connect with Kids  

October 2015

IN THIS ISSUE: College Preparation and the Pressure to Succeed
Social Media, Peers, and Parents: Oh My! 

Immersed in the age of social media, it is easy for children and teens alike to feel “the pressure of perfection” after spending significant time on any given social media site. With endless profiles and pictures available at the touch of a button, comparison is inevitable, and immense pressure and danger to mental health comes along with it. Children and teens can easily fall into the trap of comparing themselves to the online personas that their peers create, filter, and edit to show only the best and brightest moments. According to a study by Ottawa Public Health, adolescents who spend extended amounts of time on social media are “more likely to report having poor mental health, psychological distress, suicidal thoughts and unmet mental health needs.”
For example, Kathryn DeWitt, a University of Pennsylvania student who has battled depression, explains how her “friends’ lives, as told through selfies, showed them having more fun, making more friends, and going to better parties.” Or take Madison Holleran, a young student athlete also from the University of Pennsylvania who, on the world of social media, looked like she had it all as a “star athlete, bright student, and beloved friend.” Madison took her own life just last year, and was “the third of six Penn students to commit suicide in a 13-month stretch.”
The New York Times cited that, “anxiety and depression, in that order, are now the most common mental health diagnoses among college students.” The pressure that stems from social media is just one of the sources that today’s young people cope with: the pressure stemming from schoolwork, college applications, professors, and parents also play a significant role in that fact. Surrounded by all of these competing pressures, adolescents become “ultra-focused on success but don’t know how to fail.”
According to another article by The New York Times, the pressure from parents and society is causing students to “define success in only a very narrow and specific way:” by feeling the pressure to be “perfect in every academic, co-curricular and social endeavor” and to make these successes “appear effortless.” DeWitt explained how she continuously evaluated her success by whether or not she had satisfied other people’s expectations, not even her own, saying that she would “feel fulfilled and happy when other people were happy” with her, or when the “expectations they have are met.”  Students who get pushed into thinking that “failure isn’t an option also don’t get the opportunity to learn that failure is surmountable.”
Approaching a time of radical change, students preparing to leave for college need the best support system that they can get, and this starts from home. When the time for college preparation comes around, how can we help lift some of these pressures?

College preparation can be an especially stressful time for students, and Connect with Kids resources can help manage that stress. Websource is the online Connect with Kids resource with hundreds of hours of video and extensive print materials to inform kids and parents alike of the tools needed for college and career readiness. Take advantage of this resource to help your children feel prepared for their college journey ahead.

Help your students feel ready for college by informing them of the challenges ahead and providing ways to cope with them. 
College Prep for Parents: How Can We Help?

“Freshman year of college can be like running an obstacle course wearing a blindfold.”  - Kate Fagan, ESPN
College preparation brings with it a lot of pressures: making good grades, filling up applications, getting involved, all while managing the whirlwind of leaving home for the first time and beginning a new and different life. Balancing all of these tasks and maintaining mental health is no easy task, and parental support can go a long way in alleviating stress.
Parents naturally want what is best for their child. What isn’t so easy is letting up on the pressure for them to successfully execute what is “best” for them. “Overparenting” or “helicopter parenting” is an easy trap to fall into when college preparation comes along, but it is important to provide appropriate levels of support. Jessica Lahey, teacher and author of the article “Why parents need to let their children fail,” describes that certain methods of overparenting have the potential to “ruin a child’s confidence and undermine an education in independence.”  At an age when confidence has the potential to be at its lowest, parents and teachers should be wary when helping their students feel prepared for college.
In an article by the New York Times, the author describes a “doublespeak” carried out by parents and administrators that intensifies the “pressure students feel to succeed.” In an age where competition and comparison becomes the norm, the author describes how children tend to “pick through the static to hear the overriding message that only the best will do.” It is important to ensure that your student or child knows that while you want them to succeed, that failure can be a valuable learning lesson.
Lahey also urges parents to remember that “the educational benefits of consequences are a gift, not a dereliction of duty.” When students are challenged yet allowed to fail, they are given the opportunity to “be the best people they could be in the face of their mistakes.” Whether or not your child is preparing to leave for college, it is important to keep the pressure in check so that success can remain an attainable end. 
An article by offers several tips to help with all things college-prep. Parents should “set appropriate goals” to help ease the stress of their children, and “maintain a healthy routine” so that they don’t feel overwhelmed. Getting to know your student’s high school guidance counselor can be especially useful when applying to colleges and for arranging college visits. 

Push, Don't Crush, the Students: The New York Times 

uicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection: The New York Times 

plit Image: ESPN

ational Survey of College Counseling Centers  

What you need to know about college students and suicide: UC Berkely

Parents Know Pressure and Hovering Don’t Help Children Succeed. So Why Is It So Hard to Stop?: The New York Times

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking: Ottowa Public Health

How to Help My Child Prepare For College: Campus Explorer 

hy Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail: The Atlantic 

onnect with Kids Websource 
Copyright © 2015 Connect with Kids, All rights reserved.

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Connect with Kids is based out of Atlanta, Georgia and has been in business for over 15 years.  We own one of the nation’s largest evidence-based, non-fiction video libraries on student behavior and parent engagement and address issues such as bullying and violence prevention, character and life skills, attendance and achievement, health and wellness, digital citizenship, drug and alcohol prevention and college and career readiness.   Our company works with school districts to assess their needs in these areas and builds custom websites with video programs; lesson plans and parent resources that are accessible to the entire community including all parents.  Connect with Kids is listed as an Effective Producer of Programs on the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse List and is also listed on the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).