You did so well in high school!
Why didn’t you ask for help?!
For many of our children they have often done passably well in school up to a point. And then at some point that changed. What once came easily, now seems impossible. Often what happens is the child has a more close-knit support system and that support system carries more of the weight during middle and high school. Then when the student transitions to college, that support system doesn’t transition with them. Often, for the first time, the training wheels are taken off fully and the child is expected to take on all of the support system roles by themselves and put any skills that have been trained into use. You can see where this may not go well.
If you have a child about to go or in the midst of going to college, there are a few things to consider. If you have a student who has struggled in school either academically or socially, has a legitimate condition or a need for an accommodation then you will want to plan out very specifically for this transition.
These steps can help your child launch:
- Consider a mini-launch during their senior year to a community college. A lot of high schools allow a partial day schedule so that students can take college level classes to get acclimated. This is dependent on their high school class credits and clearing it with the students school counselor.
- If you can avoid it, you should try to steer your child away from a college that is not within close proximity (further than 3-4 hrs). If an emergency comes up, you want to be able to get to them quickly. If your child is another state away or across the country, it is easier for your child to flounder or hide it and harder for you to bring them home if needed.
- Make sure to register with Disability Services. This is commonly the name of the department on campus that is responsible for ensuring students receive the necessary accommodations. I always suggest registering with them on the front end before any issues come up. They have their own criteria and expectations for what is needed for a student to qualify for services and accommodations. Usually a student will need an updated assessment centering around whatever issue they struggle with (ex. an updated ADHD assessment by a college approved professional). Schools are less accommodating if you aren’t forthcoming at the beginning and try to access services after the fact. For instance, Kutztown University in Eastern PA has an Autism Services Program called My Place that seeks to assist students dealing with Autism in the adjustment to college.
- Consider requiring your child to sign a release of information form to have access to their grades and other information. Times have changed!
Schools often want parents to co-sign for student loans because they have more of a credit history and an income; however, parents are no longer allowed to have automatic access to their children’s information once they turn 18 (this is part of HIPAA). As a parent, you may want to come to an agreement in which, if you agree to co-sign for student loans, then your child agrees to sign a release so you have access to their grades.
- Connect your child with the counseling center on their college campus and/or an academic adviser. It can help to have your college student working with someone who is familiar with Executive Functioning issues centering around time management, avoidance and anxiety.
- Consider ERP. ERP stands for Exposure Response Prevention and is often used in treating OCD. Working with a licensed therapist that specializes in dealing with anxiety and uses ERP to treat it is one of the best ways to help your child overcome their anxious hurdles for launching.
Remember the tips given in the previous blog post in this series. Make every effort to be flexible, patient and supportive. Work to communicate clear expectations and goals. The more you can create a plan and have it in place before things hit a critical mass the better. I try to help parents keep in perspective that everybody ultimately has the same goal. Your child is not actively trying to fail. They just need a bit more structure and support than those children who seem as if they were shot out of a canon.