Decide Your College In 6 Questions

Decide Your College in 6 Questions

National College Decision Day is upon us! It is time to DECIDE YOUR COLLEGE!!  If you have 2 (or 3) colleges that you love from which to choose, how do you decide? Here are some questions that families need to consider: 1.   Is the money really different from one college to the next? If the scholarships and other aid from your top-choice colleges varies only somewhat, then try to keep money out of the decision, at least for the time that…

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Is My Teenager Depressed? Recognizing The Symptoms Of Depression In Teens

Is My Teenager Depressed? Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression in Teens

“I can’t tell if my teenager is just moody or if he is depressed. What’s the difference?”

In my private psychotherapy practice I get asked this question a lot by worried parents wondering about the dividing line between usual adolescent moodiness and clinical depression. It’s a good question.

College-Teenager-Depression

Teenagers can be very moody. They can also sometimes be downright surly. The pendulum swing between the emotional polarities of happy to sad may fluctuate rapidly. It’s only when the pendulum gets “stuck “ on sadness, and your teen’s feelings of hopelessness and helplessness interfere with his ability to succeed in school, enjoy family and friends, engage in life, that your teen may need some help in getting his pendulum moving again.

During their teenage years adolescents experience a good deal of mental and physical growth. According to researchers, the developing teen brain makes as many new connections as a newborn infant’s. We all know how much physical change occurs during the teen years. This growth of brain and body can be physically exhausting for teens. In fact, the average teen requires more sleep than a newborn baby. Emotional and psychological maturation also occur. All this growth and change helps the adolescent develop their sense of self, an identity.

It can be difficult for parents to see their “sweet little child” suddenly turn into a person they no longer recognize. Well, guess what, your child may not recognize herself either. It’s no wonder that your teenager may sit in her room alone for hours feeling confused and scared by her changing self. Add to this mix outside stressors such as grades, college, changing peer relationships, and leaving home. For the majority of adolescents, this too shall pass. However, if your child is among the 11% of teens experiencing symptoms of depression here are some signs to look for.

Sadness is the number one sign of depression. Along with sadness, notice any changing behavior in your teen. I found this helpful video on Be Smart Be Well.com, a health and wellness website, in which Ken Duckworth, MD, Medical Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness lists five symptoms to look for in your teen. Have your child’s sleeping patterns changed; is your child no longer interested in interacting with friends; is your child using drugs or alcohol; does your child experience physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches; is your child talking about harming himself?

Most importantly it’s crucial to keep in mind, as Dr. Duckworth points out in his video, depression in teens is real, and it is treatable.

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Keeping The Faith In College

Keeping the Faith in College

Keeping your faith alive in college is as important as your intellectual, career and social development.  This can be an exciting, inspiring and challenging time to grow and mature in every area of your life.  In a secular environment, it is easy to overlook this critical facet of college adjustment: your spiritual growth.  A wise campus minister, Fr. Ken Irgaang, once told me, “College is your time to grow spiritually as a young adult, with your eyes wide open; not to follow blindly the ways…

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Find Your Dream Career

Find Your Dream Career

If you haven’t identified your dream career, deciding and major (and a college) can feel daunting. In reality, some teens have a solid idea of what they want in a career, but most really don’t. So, exploring options and finding careers that fit your interest, personality and abilities requires some strategy. So how do you find that right major/right job? Here’s a start: 4 steps to finding the right major: 1. Assess what fields of study you love. You know…

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Can You Trust The College Stats?

Can You Trust The College Stats?

This afternoon I was reading a blog by Jon Marcus (“In new age of college transparency, who’ s checking the facts?”) and was shocked by the number of major universities that are inflating their "college stats" to keep the applications rolling in—and, of course, to maintain their all important U. S. News rankings. Whether it’s average student loan debt, graduate employment rates, or average ACT or SAT scores, it appears that a lot of schools are “cooking-the-books.”  What really stunned…

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Capitalize On Your Extracurricular Activities

Capitalize on Your Extracurricular Activities

By the time my daughter was in eighth grade, she had changed her career choice at least a dozen times. In kindergarten she anxiously proclaimed that she wanted to be a dentist, and by second grade it changed to an architect. We found out later that she had actually grown tired of eating leftovers; she felt that if she became an architect, she could avoid eating leftovers by building a “food court” in her basement. As a parent, you want…

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Despite Savings, Three Year Degree Not Catching On

Despite Savings, Three Year Degree Not Catching On

Three year degree anyone? They are doing it in Europe where it’s routine for students to get their degree in three years. Yes, it means less socializing, fewer extra curricular activities and more homework. Every year, a couple of colleges somewhere in the country will announce that they are offering a "degree-in-three".  The announcement will create the usual buzz in the national press but, in the end, nothing much comes of it.  Even at the colleges promoting three-year degrees, only a…

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Door 1 Or Door 2: The SAT Or The ACT?

Door 1 or Door 2: The SAT or the ACT?

Great news! Unlike the game show set-up, behind either door lies a prize: the chance for your student to impress the socks off the nice folks in higher-ed admissions. With the bewildering array of choices scattered along the pathway to college acceptance, this is one area in which you can't make a terribly wrong move. And what a relief that is. That being said, there is little reason to take both tests. The overwhelming majority of schools require just one.…

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Some Additional Perspective On Outside Scholarships

Some Additional Perspective On Outside Scholarships

After reading Stephanie Kennedy’s blog on outside scholarships, I thought I would jump into the conversation and give some of my own perspective on using them as a valid money saving strategy for college. Know The Limitations Though Stephanie already mentioned that many schools will replace other grants with these scholarships, resulting in no benefit to the family, some will allow you to use them to reduce your student loans.  Still others will apply them to your “unmet need". No…

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Leverage Your Unemployment For Appeals In Financial Aid

Leverage Your Unemployment for Appeals in Financial Aid

If you were unemployed anytime during the three years preceding your base year, that period of unemployment can be leveraged to get you additional financial aid--if you appeal for a professional judgment. The additional aid can help you get through some difficult financial times. Take Action Fast If you want that additional financial aid it’s important that you act immediately after receiving your award letters.  Many colleges will have limited aid left to give out, simply because most of it…

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