Logan's high school career had been a roller coaster ride. Diagnosed in 10th grade with ADHD, he struggled with chronic disorganization and lack of follow through. He was always at a loss for what was due and when, often convinced he turned in essays and homework that somehow never made it to the teachers.
His test grades were quite good and though organizing ideas was challenging, he managed to write articulate and well-conceived essays. They often arrived late however, resulting in docked points.
Logan's mother, Marcia, was his staunchest advocate, marshalling together a team of support professionals through the years, ensuring he had current testing and a 504 plan with the proper accommodations. Marcia even created a short list of colleges for Logan and designed a schedule for him to follow to file his applications on time, complete with a detailed spreadsheet for him to maintain.
Logan was accepted at a number of excellent colleges largely due to his SAT scores and excellent recommendations from his coach and teachers; he was well-liked. His successful sports career in high school lacrosse did not hurt either.
But Logan had never acquired the skills he needed to make the college transition smooth and efficient.
He struggled his first semester, dropped a course, changed his housing twice, and barely attended a couple of his classes. The college put him on probation and Logan realized he needed to rethink what it was going to take to succeed as a college student. Like many students who transition to college, Logan found his new environment overwhelming.
Students like Logan need better preparation in high school to ensure a successful transition to college. Where had the process derailed for him? Why was he so overwhelmed?
Here are just a few reasons why Logan was unwittingly predestined to struggle:
- Logan never advocated for himself. His mother always did and never "dialed it back" as Logan got older and more able to self-advocate. He never really even understood 504 plans or what he was entitled to once he got to college. All he knew was that this plan had gotten him extended time on the SAT.
- Lacking organizational systems, Logan was woefully underprepared to manage the many online processes he had to deal with at college, nor could he easily track and calendar work assigned by his instructors. He had no planner; he was used to the high school's system and relied on his memory and occasional phone reminders, often unsuccessfully.
- Before college, Logan never had to deal with as much reading and note taking from texts and lectures. He'd only ever taken notes when specifically required to for a grade and lacked an approach that worked. Often he'd not taken notes at all, and school now seemed to demand notes at every turn. Further, he had no real idea how best to use the notes he did take, rarely even looking at them!
- The college lifestyle and lack of structure left him with seemingly more "free" time than ever. He didn't know how to manage his available time, nor prioritize his studies. When he couldn't get started on an essay for one of his classes, he would call home in a panic, asking his parents what he should do. He didn't understand how to access support on campus.
Logan's struggles could have been alleviated with a bit of foresight and planning:
- All teenagers must practice "organization" early on in their high school careers by creating systems, using planning tools, and identifying what resources they can draw from.
- Self-advocacy needs to become the job of the student as early as 9th grade.
- Students need to build essential skills for finding out where to go for help on specific subject matter, leveraging accommodations, and addressing conflict and communication issues with teachers.
- Early on, students need practice evaluating options and making choices based on a set of criteria so they are better able to make decisions, an important but often overlooked skill.
- Students must develop strategies for taking notes, practice breaking down multistep papers, and solidify their routines for test preparation before they head off to college!
While preparing your student early on—starting in middle school through high school—is best, it's never too late to ready your teenager for the transition to college.
SOS4Students' Conquering College Summer Workshop is a fast-paced, hands-on two half-day intensive program designed to make college easier to manage for your student. Students learn to take control of their time and their workload so they can be self-sufficient, independent learners.
- Get and stay organized
- Prioritize and balance college life
- Make challenging decisions
- Communicate with college professors effectively
- Hone time management skills
- Study for exams and tackle heavy college workloads
- Access campus resources and self-advocate
Learn more & sign up today for Conquering College — our summer workshops fill fast!
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