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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Good Reflections from College Grads on High School and College

The first is an op-ed written by a recent college graduate, Grace Gedye, from the Los Angeles Times, about the stress that students have in college, The tough pre-college talk I wish my parents had initiated.

Before I went to college four years ago, my parents and I had a “work hard in class” talk and a “safe partying” talk. But we didn’t discuss what to do if stress morphed into anxiety or depression. We should have.

Parents should explain that there will be ups and downs in the next four years. If they’ve ever experienced depression, anxiety or other mood disorders, this is a good time to share that, too. During college check-in calls, parents should also ask kids if they know about their college’s counseling center, and if they are developing friendships.

At the same time, parents should know that many colleges are ill-equipped to meet students’ mental health needs. Large campuses have, on average, one licensed mental health provider per 3,500 students, and 30% have no psychiatrist available on campus. A few years ago, my college’s counseling center had five-week wait times for therapy intake appointments.
 
High school teachers and counselors who are already talking about success in college should work in mental health. To this day, my high school friends and I reference a speech a beloved chemistry teacher gave at our senior breakfast about his experience with depression during college.  

The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers a guide for parents and students, but here’s one place to start this crucial conversation: “30% of college students say that at some point in the last year they felt so down that it was difficult to function. Let’s talk about what to do if that happens.”
The second article is from a student who spend a lot of high school in Running Start,  A Letter to High School Students: I Did Not Miss Out On the High School Experience Because I did Running Start by Ammara Touch.
I see school philosophies so rigidly imposed that anything besides AP classes and the ‘high school experience’ is taboo, despite the fact that such an experience is not a strictly defined way to go about high school, and never should be. It should be instead understood as a diverse experience uniquely different for every student.

Although I could’ve taken AP classes at the high school, I wasn’t fond of the fact that one’s ability to obtain college credit is determined by a $90 test that requires a certain score for specific subjects, standards which vary by university. And let’s face it — some of us are horrid test takers.

The topics you learn in class are uncensored, but that is the great part because it reveals the ugly truths of the world, facilitates constructive discussion of relevant current issues, and puts perspective to things around you as you question everything. I found myself thriving in this mature and autonomous atmosphere as I learned the ins and outs of navigating college independently without the drama of high school. 

I started Running Start as a junior and throughout the next two years I took classes at Green River College, experiencing college-level rigor, and was able to earn my Associates in the Arts and Sciences alongside my high school diploma.

Running Start is great for both students who are set on their major and want to get ahead as well as students undecided about their field of study. In college, they have a space to explore the subjects available in real life beyond the typical math, science, social studies and English, allowing greater career readiness.

This experience tested my time management, prioritization skills and drive as I sought to balance my college classes, music practice, work, volunteering, school extra-curricular activities, and family responsibilities. With an equivalent of a year’s-worth of high school content condensed into an 11-week quarter, I had to develop effective study habits in order to keep up with all my assignments. I discourage students to think of Running Start as an easier option because you take three or four classes opposed to six; college is extremely fast-paced and requires a lot of independence some individuals may not be ready for. It’s not something you can simply cruise through and expect to get A’s. Effort matters.
 

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