Thursday, December 16, 2010

Playlist for Completing College Applications

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Plugging into some music can help drain away stress while putting those final touches on college applications. The routine of filling out forms online can be made tolerable with some good tunes. I have asked a few students what music they like for focus and de-stressing. Those ideas helped me form the playlist below which is certainly open to additions.

The list is pretty eclectic because some people focus better with high energy music while others like a calm mood. I should mention that a few students said they like white noise either from a machine or a fan.



Bare Naked Ladies: Who Needs Sleep?
Eric Clapton: Layla (long version)
Led Zeppelin: Heartbreaker
M.I.A.: Galang
Green Day: Holiday
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Snow
ZZ Top: Sharp Dressed Man


Enya: The Celts
Loreena McKennitt: Mummer's Dance
Kamal: Song of the Deep (whale song)
Sim Redmond Band: Life is Water
Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells
Chopin: Nocturne in E flat Major

For songs of encouragement you could play Dar Williams' "Better Things" or Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes".

The song "Scream" By Zac Efron just may sum up the whole application madness. What do you listen to?

Monday, December 13, 2010


This time of year, many families find themselves eagerly anticipating having their college freshman return home for the holidays. Having everyone under one roof again is exciting; however, like many things associated with this festive season, their homecoming often results in a whole new set of challenges. Teens that have become used to being independent and making their own decisions while at college may chafe at what they view as unreasonable parental rules and restrictions and scoff at family traditions that their parents and younger siblings still cherish. Here are some tips that can help make your reunion more enjoyable and less stressful:

Expect change
Be forewarned, having your son or daughter at home won’t automatically return your family to its “pre-college” dynamic. Family members have all had several months to realign themselves and take on new roles. Your college student is now a young adult and should be treated as such instead of like a wayward teen or a guest in your house. Failing to recognize and acknowledge that key fact is bound to result in a very unpleasant winter break for all of you.

Be consistent with rules
It’s helpful if parents can sit down together before their freshman arrives and develop a list of rules that will be nonnegotiable while your teen is home. Making your expectations clear right from the start of the December break will alleviate any confusion or uncertainty about what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t. You can also use this time to talk about how you’ll handle things like borrowing the car, requests for money, and unexpected outings or impulsive road trips with friends you’ve never met.

Don’t compromise family values for the sake of peace
College students often find it surprisingly easy to forget basic family courtesies like picking up after themselves, using appropriate language and good manners, and helping out with daily chores like emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, and caring for family pets.

Of course the returning college student shouldn’t be required to do extra work to make up for all the chores they’ve missed while they’ve been away (as my son’s brothers suggested!) but they should be expected to do their fair share.

Offer “quality” time together

Most returning teenagers will be excited to reconnect with old high school friends, teachers, or neighbors but that doesn’t mean that they won’t welcome some uninterrupted quality time with you.

Phone calls, emails, or texts can’t take the place of good, old-fashioned “face time”. Put the holiday chaos on hold for a few hours, sit back, and really listen to what your son or daughter is saying; you’ll learn a lot!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Crunch Time in College Admissions

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AAURGH! The primal scream (outdoors of course) is sometimes a good stress release for seniors in the final stages of applying to college. Aaron (a senior I know) runs up and down the stairs as fast as he can to try and relax. Why is it so bad? For one thing students now apply on average to 7 colleges which complicates the process. Heavy competition also translates into stress with over 1 million more applicants than a decade ago. So how to release stress? Squeezing a funky shaped stress ball (like my penguin) can help with typing fatigue. Many students de-stress by exercising prior to returning to their applications. Rocking out to music also helps get the kinks out.

Parents need to be supportive at this crunch time. What does that mean? In this case, it means offering to help the student as needed (except in writing essays). Offering is the key word. Forcing unwanted help on the student can result in blow-ups. Reminding students of things they need to do without nagging is an art and a necessary art for parents at this stage of the admissions process. Using a mode of communication that is least annoying for the student is best whether this is post-it notes or text messages. Comfort food can also help. Favorite foods like warm chocolate chip cookies can definitely improve the whole mood around the application activity. Contacting guidance about missing pieces of the application can also relieve some of the pressure on students.

College applications are due when they are due. This is a shock to many high school students who have easily received extensions on high school work. The consequences of a late or incomplete application are quite harsh. Most college admissions offices are too swamped to let students know personally that their application is incomplete. Generally, when other students are getting acceptance letters, those who have missed deadlines or failed to check on their applications will just receive a rejection letter from the colleges stating either that the application was too late to be processed or that parts of the application were missing.

Buckling down and finishing the applications can be hard for some procrastinators. Mary is an self-acknowledged procrastintor and she deals with it by giving herself a small reward for every section of the common application that she completes. I say whatever it takes, students need to get those applications complete at least a week before the deadlines. Josh (and others) waited until the night before the applications were do to send them out. AAURGH! An inside primal scream this time. "The server is down due to unsccheduled maintenance." Avoid the indoor primal scream. Submit early!