Heading to College? Tips for Students

Off to College! Ten Tips for Students

1. Tour the Campus.

Don't wait until the last minute or until you have an emergency. Locate where your classes will be, the professors' offices, the likely parking options, bookstores, healthcare/pharmacy, advisors/counselors, cafeterias, laundry facilities, etc. Take note of things like hours of operation or how long it takes to get from one place to another. Remember that campuses look a lot different when classes are in full swing and everyone is in attendance!

 2. Go to Class.

Showing up and participating really does make a difference. You never know when you might need a teacher to go to bat for you or a classmate to help you with a project. If they don't know you, you've lost a valuable resource. Know yourself, if you are not a morning person, try to avoid scheduling an 8:00 class. Be wary if your brain is prone to tricking you into avoiding work with ideas like, "Oh skip it just this once" or "You don't really need to be there, you can get the notes". Treat class like the Netflix movie that you paid for, so you watch it to the end, even if it isn't as good as you thought it would be! (Tip: Before you sign up for classes, you can read course reviews to see what your peers thought of Chemistry 101 with Dr. Green).

3. Go to the Library (at least try it).

Explore the resources there. Ask questions, get assistance, find a great spot to focus without distraction. Using the library can mean the difference between being at college for a semester vs. being there all four years!

4. Be Prepared.

Find out what you need (use a reliable source or sources) and get those materials promptly. If you are having trouble getting something you need, get help quickly. Don't give up or spend too long waiting for that book to come in at the discount book store. Try ALL of the potential resources (parents, friends, professor, advisor, retailers) until you get the materials you need.

5. Ask for help.

After you have tried to figure it out on your own, ask for help. There are no dumb questions and everyone on campus is really there to help students succeed. This is not the time to be stubbornly independent! The professors, advisors, counselors, librarians, teacher's aides, and your peers are all potential resources.

6. Be Open-Minded.

College offers a lot of varied experiences. You are more likely to enjoy the experience if you bravely embrace the new. You will take courses in things you have no experience or confidence in. You will meet people who are really different. Trust yourself and leave your comfort zone!

7. Manage Your Time.

You may be able to get through college without managing your time wisely, but I don't recommend it. Why suffer through the stress of all-nighters, missed deadlines, and less-than prepared for exams?

Use time management and organizer tools (planners, calendars, phone apps). Time yourself and see how long it takes you to do basic daily things like get shower, dress, eat a meal, or go for a run. Then time how long it takes you to read a chapter, research a topic, or write a page. Use this information to realistically make adjustments to your time planning. It is much less stressful to keep up with things as they come than it is to have to play catch up. Do you really have time to straighten your hair or play that video game?

8. Follow the Syllabus.

What you lost the syllabus?! Get another one!  Don't give up, someone has one. If the professor really did not give out a syllabus and is not telling you what is expected, you are not off the hook. Make a plan anyway.  The campus calendar tells you when mid-term and finals weeks will be happening. Research online to see what the course syllabus looks like when taught by other professors at other college campuses.

9. Take Good Care of Yourself.

Make sure that you get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, relax, and have fun. College is a marathon, not a race. Pace yourself and try to keep a balanced lifestyle.

10. Persistence is Key.

You are going to experience some challenges. You might fail a class. You might get your heartbroken. You might change majors or change schools. Get through these things, survive them using all of your internal and outside resources (family, friends, etc.). Use disappointment and failure to build your character. Make changes when it makes sense to change things. Let go of the things that don't really matter. Persistence will get you to your goals.

Lynn Wadelton, Ph.D.,Lic. Clinical Psychologist


Is Your Teen Heading Off to College? Tips for Parents

1. Discuss your expectations.

Talk about practical things (money, responsibilities, rules) AND emotional things (fears, hopes, desires). First talk together as parents and get on the same page. Then talk with your son or daughter about their expectations and feelings regarding what they envision for college life. Listen to each other. Brainstorm, negotiate, and problem solve until you have the plan that you all feel reasonably positive about. Don't get too far ahead of yourselves, stay with just the first few months goals!

If you are going to be helping to move your son or daughter into a dorm, sit down and discuss expectations for the move-in weekend itself. Be sure to include the practical things (Who will do what during the move, how much will it cost, what will the time schedule be?). Then discuss your emotional goals for the weekend (Are you hoping for a warm, family-time weekend, a last minute cram course of things you want to teach your student, or a serious "You're independent now, don't screw this up" tone?).

If your student is staying local or living at home, you will have less pressure to accomplish everything in a weekend, but still make time for the planning and discussion about what you expect life to be like now that your teen is in college.

2. Locate the resources on campus and nearby.

Take the time to walk the area if you can. Don't stop with the dorm, cafeteria and the library. Find the health center/pharmacy, ATM/banks, recreation centers, and student counseling centers. Know their hours and what they have to offer. Many times I see freshman who have caused themselves setbacks because they didn't ask for help!

3. Remember that this is your teen's experience.

They will want to do things their own way. Even if you think they are making a mistake, don't forget that learning from one's own mistakes is valuable!

4. Support your teen as needed.

The "as needed" part is key. Try to strike a balance between over-helping or under-helping! What can your teen expect from you as far as financial support, emotional support, and support with workloads. Make sure you reliably keep your commitments and give a heads up if your circumstances change.

Similarly, what changes might occur in support you expect from your teen. If they are living at home, are you prepared for them to miss some family events, not be able to help out with siblings, or have a messier room due to college responsibilities without feeling like you are running a free bed and breakfast?

5. Try to celebrate and enjoy this transition time.

You have successfully raised a son or daughter and they are entering college. Trust that you gave them what they need to succeed. It may feel like you are never going to see them again, but feelings are not facts. Parent's weekend and Thanksgiving break are right around the corner!

Male Depression: A Comprehensive Guide

Male Depression With approximately six million American men dealing with depression every year, the topic raises many questions. Some of the more common questions people have about depression include:

  • “Am I depressed?”
  • “How can I recognize depression symptoms?”
  • “What causes depression?”
  • “What treatment options are available for depression?”

Our goal is to shed some light on this important issue and provide resources to help educate people so they can make better decisions about their health.

Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About Depression in Men

Male depression merits special attention because depression often goes unrecognized and untreated in men.  While women with depression are more likely to seek treatment, men with depression often do not get the help they need.  Women are also more likely to use social support when they have depression.  Men often do not share or talk about their depression feelings for many reasons. Examples include "male alexithymia" (difficulty describing emotion) and social stigma.

Yet, according to Webmd.com, more than 6 million men in the U.S. have depression each year.  To help battle the stigma attached to male depression many famous and successful men have gone public with their battles. The list includes presidents (John Adams), astronauts (Buzz Aldrin), authors (Isaac Asimov), rock and roll stars (Jon Bon Jovi), TV personalities (Alec Baldwin), and athletes(Terry Bradshaw).

And besides that, depression is less often diagnosed in men because depression symptoms can be different for men than they are for women. Women with depression are more likely to experience negative thoughts and sadness. Men with depression may have more physical symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. Men may also be more likely to mask depression by self-treating with alcohol or overworking.

The Sooner You Know The Facts, The Better

Depression can be particularly dangerous for men if left untreated. This is particularly true if the depression includes suicidal thoughts. While women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to choose methods that are lethal.  In fact, the leading cause of death in men under age 55 is suicide.  Men older than 55 are at a high risk of depression due to medical problems and significant stressors, likes retirement or loss of a spouse or loved one.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a whopping 19-30% of people older than 65 experience signs of depression.

What else do you need to know?

Well, the good news is that depression is highly treatable.  If you or someone you know has signs of depression, seek professional help.

We recommend that you:

1. Start by seeing your family physician or primary care doctor.

Many medical conditions and medications can cause depression symptoms.  Experts have correlated heart conditions like high cholesterol with increased incidence of depression. Scientists aren’t sure if that’s due to chemical changes that alter the neurotransmitters that impact mood or if the correlation is due to lifestyle issues like diet, alcohol, or lack of exercise.  Thyroid and adrenal problems also produce depression symptoms.  Deficiency in levels of B-12 and other vitamins and minerals  have been associated with depression.  Low-testosterone levels can also produce depression symptoms.  Medications can have side-effects that cause depression symptoms. Your doctor can help you figure out exactly what’s going on.

2.  Next see a professional therapist for talk therapy.

We strongly recommend that you do not just see a doctor and get a prescription.  Not everyone needs to take antidepressant medication. Medication alone is often not enough to solve the problem. A therapist will see you weekly, track your symptoms, and help you work through underlying issues that contribute to your depression. Research shows talk therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy are effective in treating depression. Research also shows that medication combined with talk therapy is particularly effective, especially if you take antidepressant medication. Talk therapy also paves the way for the opportunity to wean from medication down the road.

3.  Take good care of yourself as you treat your depression.

Some factors that come into play when treating depression are within your control. Do everything you can to improve your condition. Avoid alcohol. Get adequate sleep. Relax. Eat healthy foods. Postpone major decisions. And, above all,  don't blame yourself!

Find A Depression Support Group Near You 

St. Johns County Gifted Evaluation Timelines For 2016-2017

FREE Gifted Testing!!!

At no cost to parents, students at any grade level in the St. Johns County School District can be screened for gifted evaluation.  Teachers make referrals, but parents can also request that their child be screened by contacting the school counselor.

All 2nd grade students are screened for intellectual giftedness in October.  How it works:

  1. The Otis Lennon School Abilities Test (OLSAT) is administered to the class as a group.  The OLSAT is a screener, it is not the actual IQ test!  The screener is used to determine who is referred on for the actual IQ test.  It may miss kids who actually are intellectually gifted and it may refer kids who do not end up scoring in the gifted range.
  2. In addition, the classroom teacher completes a Teacher Checklist.  Your child must have at least 11 of the 20 characteristics of gifted children listed on the checklist to be referred for the gifted IQ test.
  3. If your child passes the screener and the teacher checklist criteria, you will sign a consent for evaluation and your child will be individually tested by a school psychologist with the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scale (RIAS).  That test should be completed by February and you should have results by the end of March.   

Why test privately if the school tests for free?

I agree, free testing is great!  Private testing is indicated when:

  1.  Your child misses the cut-off score on the screener or on the RIAS IQ test, but you suspect that your child may be gifted.  A single score is just a one time measure!  Kids can miss a cut-off score for a variety of reasons:  not feeling well, anxious, shy, over- thinking, not attentive, wrong test for measuring that particular child's strengths, or just an off day!
  2. You would like to have the test and the test score more quickly than the school system can provide it.
  3. You suspect that your child will perform better if tested outside of the school day.  We typically schedule testing on SATURDAYS, school holidays, or early morning.  When you schedule the test you have more control over performance variables such as whether your child is feeling well, rested, and well-fed prior to testing!
  4. You  want your child to be tested by a psychologist who has time to develop a rapport, take breaks, and provide a relaxed environment vs. someone who might need to test several children in a day!
  5. Your child needs to take an alternative IQ test.  We offer the RIAS, the WISC, and the Stanford-Binet.

GREAT NEWS!  Private test results are now accepted at any time of the school year in St. Johns County!