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freshman year checklist

Freshman Year Checklist

As your child enters high school, you may be wondering about their transition from middle school. Questions may be swirling in your head: Will they ease into their new schedule? Will they make friends?  But how much should your budding high schooler think about college in freshman year? Is it too early to start planning? In a word, no but this “no” comes with some additional nos. Should you pepper your freshman with deep questions about their plans after high…

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How To Finish College Early

With so many things to juggle in life these days, students want to know how to finish college early. Is it possible? Yes, but it takes a bit of planning with the correct information to guide you. There are many choices and paths available - you just need to decide how to get all your ducks in a row for which ones are best for you and make a plan.  How To Finish College Early - A Guide On Different…

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EFC Too High?

EFC Too High? We’re Here To Help

This article is slated to be updated with the latest FAFSA, Scholarship, and Financial Information. For more updated information, please refer to our 2023 and 2024 articles. By now your student has probably received award letters from the colleges to which they’ve been accepted and you might be thinking, “Wow. The bottom line looks a lot higher than we thought. Why is my expected family contribution so high?” You’re not alone. Very often a family’s expected family contribution (EFC) is…

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The after effects of the pandemic on students and their mental health 

Most families were happy to have their kids back in school full time this year, but many also had anxiety about their kids getting sick. Trying to balance everything mentally has been a struggle for most families. But, most importantly, how about the anxiety of students? Some kids were fully remote last year or hybrid and their lives changed drastically - emotionally and socially. Sure, being nervous the first day of school is normal, but is there anxiety that’s not…

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How to Manage College Stress

Our fast-paced, technology-driven world coupled with the recent global pandemic has pushed our student’s mental stress levels to the limits.  Our mental health is just as important as our physical health and learning to manage stress will serve you well throughout life.  The college experience is chock full of stressors and major life decisions.  The lengthy reading, research, studying, exams, and deadlines can all be extremely stress-inducing. Develop strong coping skills Coping skills involve the management and regulation of your…

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How to Succeed in Online School

Online higher education has always been an option, but for those of us that decided to pursue degrees mostly (or fully) in-person, 2020. As someone who just finished my final semester of college online, I am familiar with the challenges and the disappointments. Here’s my advice on how to handle taking your classes online.  1. Create a space for school  If you can, avoid doing school work in your bed. I know it’s tempting to watch lectures from the comfort…

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My College Planning Team Social Distancing Guidelines

MCPT is committed to following or exceeding CDC protocols as we slowly begin to resume in-person meetings with our clients and prospective clients.  Beginning June 1, 2020, in-person meetings between our clients and financial advisors may be held in the conference rooms at our Naperville office — if both the client and financial advisor are comfortable meeting in person. Alternatively, phone appointments remain an option.  All meetings between clients and our client service managers or other professionals on our team will…

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Recommended Gap Year Reads

For hundreds of years, tales have been spun about the adventures of travelers in distant lands. Memoirs of these travels serve to inform – and inspire- its readers. The following list compiles travelogues written in the 20th century by authors as famous as Che Guevara to former 30 Rock producer Steve Hely. They range from serious to hilarious, but they all describe challenging yourself in a foreign location. Even if that location is our own Appalachian Trail! These books just may help you decide where…

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Navigating Senior Year: 5 Things to Know

Giddy with excitement and feeling pretty amazing, your child is in their senior year. You are left standing at the curb while they are on top of their world. The next several months are all about parties, prom and their 25 best friends. For parents navigating senior year, you may feel as if your relationship has changed, and this can leave even the most confident parent feeling a bit uneasy. The process of breaking away that begins during senior year is…

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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.


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, 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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