Back to School & What to Expect: Different Grade, Different Pressures
Back to school always carries different emotions, expectations, stressors, and opportunities. As parents it’s hard to ascertain what to expect as your child enters a new environment with a new set of rules and realizations. Depending on what grade you enter, there are things to prepare yourself to better help your child, or yourself, navigate through change. Here are some examples to consider as your child enters a new grade.
Standardized Tests: Get ready for your child to face preparing for a standardized test. Some even start studying and practicing for it before high school, which can cause stress for those that are just starting out. You have plenty of time to practice and prepare so don’t let the pressure stifle your ability to achieve. Sometimes, should your child struggle with standardize tests, you will find parents shelving out money for tutors or classes, and some families can’t afford to pay such expenses. Don’t think a course is going to change your score. Studies show it can be beneficial, however, some of us are poor test takers so doing your best to relax and know that all you can do is your best. Remember, there is no such thing as a standard person, so don’t let a score define your pending success.
The College Conversation: Preparing for college becomes a new conversation which can be overwhelming and stressful. Students can be faced with making choices for their future. They should make a list of Universities they plan to apply for and separate them into three categories: Reaches, Targets and Safeties. It is important to be realistic and set reachable goals with a list of school that you tend to apply for.
Freshman Year: When your child goes off to college they enter a completely new world, often considered the adult world. They are met with a new set of challenges as they make it on their own. New friends, new activities, new roommates, a new diet. Freshman fifteen is no joke. Your child might come home for Christmas with some extra weight which is fine, it happens and it’s easy to look shocked when they get off the plane. Freshmen that gain weight know it so be supportive as they make new goals to find a way to balance a new diet.
Sophomore Year: Depending on the rules of a college, it might be time to think about picking your major. Again, every child’s experience is different. Some colleges might ask your child to choose a major and pick classes that work toward that goal freshman year. Stress can set in when your child doesn’t know what they want to study so be supportive and remember to keep open lines of communication.
Junior Year: It’s annoying to work for free but, internships that build your resume in a selected major can carry another set of stressors. You begin to compete with your peers in finding the right internship and that experience can shed light on the future pressures of finding a job once graduation sets in.
Senior Year: The real world is on the horizon, and you bet it’s going to be a mound of complex emotions that cause anxiety which can be overwhelming. Here is an example of how it played out for me.
JOURNAL ENTRY – FALL SENIOR YEAR CAN KISS MY ASS – 1998
(Excerpt from Inside the Insane)
School started and classes were coupled with heightened anxiety. I practiced Ashtanga Yoga all summer long to help release the consistent anxiousness that possessed every second of my existence, and now I found it hard to juggle five classes and find time to practice yoga as much. The pulsating anxiety along with the question “What are you going to do when you graduate?” wasn’t helping much either. I felt like saying in response, please leave me alone. I am 22 years old and have no idea so back off. Unfortunately, that answer was not acceptable. It seemed that the entire world was centered on getting that first perfect job out of college. And I was lost.
Like I said, everyone has a different experience when it comes to navigating through high school and college. What matters is you do your best to take care of yourself and know that even if people pretend it’s smooth sailing, it’s not. Be realistic with yourself and you’ll find yourself better off as you climb from one grade to the next.
Frustrated student image available from Shutterstock.
Loberg, E. (2013). Back to School & What to Expect: Different Grade, Different Pressures. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/manic-depression/2013/08/01/back-to-school-different-grade-different-pressures-what-to-expect/