College Counseling Tips to help Transition from High School.

Transitioning to college or University can be very challenging for many adolescent teenagers. I have been working with teenagers for over 17 years helping them find balance and teaching them tools to be successful in life. Being balanced means balancing self care with: social and friendships, academics, and family, and a career or employment. Being aware from parents can be frightening and being on your own can be overwhelming for many teenagers.

I have worked with many gifted teenagers that are exceling in their academics, however, they are not mentally prepared for going off to University. 

Many teenagers have a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress and this is impairing their abilities to do homework as well as obtaining adequate sleep. 

Fear of being on their own and having to fend for themselves is another common stressor. Having to get their own meals and wash their own clothing and pick up after them-selves.

Being separated from their parents is also a very common fear. Living in a new environment with dorm mates or roommates is a huge change and a big source of anxiety.

Social fears are also a big source of stress. Who will they meet? Losing old friends and having to meet new friends is a big source of anxiety as well. Joining new organizations like a Fraternity or Sorority is stressful for youth. Developing quality relationships is a huge stressor for many youth in the USA.

Many Teens are taught that you have to go to an Ivy League school to get a good job or a career path. The reality is that many college grads from all over the country get jobs in a variety of fields: Film, law, Computers, Medicine, Engineering etc, Music etc.

Negative thoughts about their performance in college is very common. Feeling that their University will not be “good enough” for their future is a common theme. Helping youth understand how their negative unhealthy thoughts are hurting their mood and their performance is a huge part of empowering youth through CBT and other forms of therapy.

Going off to college is a huge transition. Many youth are not used to the freedom and being away from home. Having freedom requires your child or teen to have strong boundaries and a powerful work ethic . Being self motivated and having excellent time management skills is essential to have a balance : academics, family, social, sleep, exercise, good nutrition and a job.

I have worked with many teens to help give them tools to prepare for college success. Being successful mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Twenty five percent of teenagers going to college have a diagnosable mental health disorder. As an example many teens start smoking marijuana and have used marijuana. The teen may just use weed occasionally however it could be dependence or an addiction to marijuana. When disorders such as : depression, anxiety, addictions, mood disorders go untreated these issues can become more debilitating and impact health, grades, relationships and much more.

Over eight percent of college and University students are feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities at school or with work or both.

Almost forty percent of college students have experienced some level of Depression in the last year. Depression with college aged teens and older was the number one reason why they dropped out of college. Depression can impact ones ability to eat, sleep, work, studying, going to classes and more. Obviously suicide and self harm or harm to others are also concerns with depression in college.

Some symptoms one might have for depression are the following however each person may have different symptoms and some may mask their symptoms in a variety of ways. Here are some potential symptoms of depression among college students: feeling sad and unhappy, change in weight, gaining weight, losing weight, slowed thinking or speech, loss of interest in social activities or events, fatigue, loss of energy, sleeplessness, feeling guilty, feeling angry, feeling bad about past failures ( perceived), trouble focusing or concentrating, indecisiveness, irritability, frustration for no specific reason, suicidal thoughts, thoughts of dying, death, suicide, not enjoying things once enjoyed, not attending classes, extreme sadness or anger over a relationship, relationships. These are all huge red flags to get professional mental health counseling for you or your friend or someone you know.

Over Forty Million adults over the age of eighteen experience anxiety. Here are some types of anxiety disorders: Generalized anxiety disorder: severe anxiety that impacts daily activities; Obsessive compulsive disorders: unreasonable thoughts and fears that lead you to unhealthy behaviors or compulsions; Panic disorder: panic, fearfulness, terror that happens suddenly or rapidly; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Triggered by a past traumatic event that is impacting you negatively in the present state; Social anxiety disorder; everyday social events create embarrassment, self conscious behaviors, anxiety, fear, avoidance patterns.

Some potential symptoms for college students with anxiety disorders may be: stress and apprehension, muscular tension throughout the body in various regions, irritability, sweating, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pain, headaches, stomach aches, upset stomach, heart beat feels irregular.

It is important to get help from a professional with expertise treating anxiety disorders. The good news is that it can be managed and treated. David Abrams MAPC, CAGS, LPC has been working with teens and college students for over 15 years. He has an advanced Graduate training in children teen and family counseling and therapy.

Articles are not to be taken as a substitute for professional advice or counseling.