Updated: Nov 20, 2020
Read on to learn strategies to help your student 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 virtual college fair 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! Third, some students feel shy or anxious about being seen on camera or meeting new people.
2 RECOMMENDATIONS TO DECREASE ANXIETY
To help students think of college visits in a more manageable and less intimidating way, I recommend:
1. Identify 1 or 2 goals
Proactively discussing goals or a few questions that the student wants to have answered can help students focus and provide a goal that is manageable and less stressful than what most students think a college visit is about. Instead of thinking "I need to learn everything about this college and make a decision that will affect the rest of my life" you can identify smaller goals such as:
"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?"
You, as the parent, may be attending the college event with more questions in mind but your student only needs 1 or 2 questions to focus on.
2. 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 most college struggles is to start simple in order to lessen anxiety and build confidence!