2 Tips To Lessen Student Anxiety Around College Visits / Tours
Updated: Apr 6
How can we help our students feel more comfortable, less anxious and more excited to attend college fairs, open houses and virtual visits.
WHY DOES MY STUDENT FEEL ANXIOUS?
It can be overwhelming for students to attend a college fair or open house for many reasons.
First, anything related to college or higher education is foreign to high school students. They have spent the last 10 years in the K-12 school system and by junior and senior year are hopefully finally becoming familiar with academic routines and expectations. "College" is a completely new ball game. Just the idea of going to an unfamiliar campus, with new teachers, new peers, and new routines and systems can cause anxiety and these heightened emotions will prevent your student from really listening and enjoying the experience.
Second, students don't know what they will be asked to 'do' at a college open house, visit or tour.
The idea of attending an event where the expectations or responsibilities are unknown can make anyone nervous!
Lastly, after two years of covid-isolation and virtual learning some students feel shy or anxious about meeting new people (whether in-person or on the screen).
2 RECOMMENDATIONS TO DECREASE ANXIETY
To help students think of college visits in a more manageable and less intimidating way, I recommend:
Identify 1 or 2 goals
Proactively discussing goals or identifying a few questions that the student wants to have answered can help students focus during a campus visit. Brainstorm with your student a goal or question that they can listen for and/or ask the tour guide creates a manageable and less stressful way to approach a college visit.
College visits are important and are often the first "real" step toward applying to college.
Students share with me that they often think to themselves, "I need to learn everything about this college and make a decision that will affect the rest of my life".
Here are a few conversation starters and smaller goals that may be helpful:
"Let's find out what types of clubs they have on campus"
"Let's find out if college freshman can bring cars to campus."
"How many students are usually in the freshman class?"
Even though you, as the parent, may be attending the college event with more questions in mind, your student only needs 1 or 2 questions to help focus their anxiety and energy,
Explain that a college fair/visit gives YOUR STUDENT power
I like to talk to students about the power they hold when attending a college event. I frame the visit as a chance for colleges to try and convince students why they should attend their college. Students get to be 'the judge' and make the ultimate decision (along with their parents) about whether or not they would like to attend each college.
Feeling confident and in control can lessen student anxiety.
My biggest tip for overcoming campus visit anxiety (and, well, most college struggles in general) is to start simple in order to lessen anxiety and build confidence!
If your student is feeling anxious about starting college, let's talk. One a week touchstones of support during their first semester may be just what they need!
Contact Jennifer Sullivan at: email@example.com