Tag Archives: Life Strategies

Incoming Freshman: How to Start College Off Right

Incoming Freshman


Starting college is one of life’s major milestones. For many students, it’s the first time they’ll be living away from home, the first time they’ll be responsible for decisions about what to study and their daily routine. So it’s no wonder that the summer leading up to college is filled with a mix of excitement and trepidation. What if my classes are too hard? What if I have no friends?

It’s crucial that freshmen get the support they need to make this transition smoothly, otherwise they’re at high risk of dropping out. According to Department of Education, only about 40 percent of full-time students graduate from college in four years. The National Student Clearinghouse, a higher-education nonprofit, found that nearly 25 percent of full-time college students end up leaving school without completing their degree, and the dropout rate is even worse for part-time students. Six years after enrolling, only about 30 percent have graduated or continue to take classes.

Starting College Off Right

So how do you start off college right? By acknowledging the challenges ahead and finding out where to go for help when you need it.

“Probably the number one concern of new college students is entering an unfamiliar social environment,” says Dr. Bryn Jessup, Director of Family Services at Yellowbrick. “For most students, leaving home means trading a friendly and familiar social environment for an unfamiliar one, in which the vital experience of belonging is something that needs to be created anew, from scratch.”

Common worries among new students include:

  • Anxiety about getting along with roommates
  • Making new friends
  • Keeping up with the academic workload
  • Campus logistics (what if I get lost on the first day of class?)

Students can and should be reassured that there are things they can do to address all these potential problems. “It helps to identify ahead of time who, what, and where you can go to for help,” Jessup says.

Resident advisors in the dorms are trained to address roommate conflicts, and can even help arrange a room switch if necessary. Researching campus clubs and activities can steer a new student toward others with similar interests.

Focus on Time Management
And even before arriving on campus, students should be thinking about how they’ll stay organized.

“College presents significant challenges in time management,” Jessup says. Whether it’s an app on your phone or a paper planner, Jessup says freshman need to make sure they have the tools they’ll need to keep track of class times and meetings, administrative tasks, and deadlines.
Set Realistic Goals for Freshman Year

Today’s college students are under pressures their own parents may not recognize or understand. “Young people today are expected to ‘hit the ground running’ in order to launch a successful adulthood,” he says. “I hear more anxiety expressed these days about picking the right major, about strategic planning for graduate or professional school, about making sure that you’re doing all you can to justify the enormous expense of college.”

To counteract these relentless expectations, both students and their parents should be realistic about the goals for freshman year.

“I think it’s helpful for parents to endorse the idea that the first term—if not the entire first year of college—is going to be all about adjusting to living away from home, meeting new people and navigating a complex new environment,” Jessup says. “It should be a time for curiosity, for intellectual exploration and for tolerating ambiguity, uncertainty and novelty.”
Maintain a Connection with Family

That’s not to say students should be sent off to figure it all out themselves. Jessup says the students who adjust best to college life are those who have a good support system at home, as well as a good road map for where to seek help on campus. Students should leave home knowing how often they’re expected to check in with family, what kind of financial support they’ll be receiving, and how often they’ll be coming home for visits during the school year.

“Maintaining supportive connections with family and friends from home can help students feel grounded and self-aware as they navigate new territory,” Jessup says.
Additional Support: Campus Competence

For students who need more intensive, hands-on support, Yellowbrick’s new Campus Competence program is designed to assist young adults with learning disabilities or mental health challenges adjust to college life. A sober residential community located two blocks from the Northwestern University campus, it offers individual career and academic counseling, an on-staff occupational therapist to help students stay organized, and group sessions with experienced Yellowbrick professionals. For more information, visit: https://www.yellowbrickprogram.com/campus-competence-services.html

Experiential Avoidance, PTSD, and ACT in Children & Young Adults

By: Dr. David H. Baron, MD, Senior Staff Psychiatrist at Yellowbrick

Recent research published in Development and Psychopathology suggests that children who are neglected, or physically or sexually abused, and cope with the experience by avoiding painful thoughts, are significantly more likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).1 Continue reading Experiential Avoidance, PTSD, and ACT in Children & Young Adults

Parenting Your Emerging Adult for College and Career Success

Will your parenting style promote the college and career success of your emerging adult? How much parent involvement encourages the development of critical skills needed for future success? Which educational and employment situations should parents let young adults handle on their own? How can parents influence college and career success? Continue reading Parenting Your Emerging Adult for College and Career Success

Is There an App for That? Autonomy and Dependency in College Students

college student mobile app dependency
Most college students use at least one online application throughout the course of a day. While many technological advances stimulate productivity and creativity, Diane R. Dean and Arthur Levine describe how college students can develop a dependency to their device of choice by continually turning to applications in their article, “Is There an App for That?” Autonomy and Dependency in Today’s College Students”.   Continue reading Is There an App for That? Autonomy and Dependency in College Students

Fear of Being Alone

fear of being alone - yellowbrick

Human beings are, fundamentally, social creatures with an innate inclination to move closer to and connect with others. Sometimes, when we have issues stemming from early attachment difficulties, this wish to be closer to others gets amplified and distorted, e.g., into a belief that “I can’t live without you,” or “If this relationship doesn’t work out, then I’ll probably be alone forever, it’s my only chance.” Continue reading Fear of Being Alone

Parenting or Policing Your Young Adult Through the Summer

Yellowbrick Program - Parenting or Policing Summer

Summer triggers excessive behavior, especially for adult children living at home with their parents.  To your young adult, it’s prime time to spend nights in beer tents until dawn or to stay out with friends, experimenting with drugs like marijuana or cocaine. The pressure of tight tank tops and barely-there bikinis influence extreme summer diets.  It’s a tough time to parent, to guide, and to negotiate boundaries with your adult children.

Distinguishing the Norm from the Not

Surely, this is normal and encompassed within parenting young adults – until you detect a pattern, leaving its mark of concern, worry, anger, shame, guilt or judgement across your heart.  How do you approach your child once you’ve suspected they’re down a dangerous path? Do you find yourself parenting, or policing your adult teen through summer?

Positive Parenting

Positive parenting techniques for young adults living at home with their parents often includes the practice of simple social skills needed to develop healthy relationships. By offering mutual respect, actively listening to each other, and intentional compromising, parents and adult children negotiate boundaries to which both feel satisfaction. But what if positive parenting just isn’t enough to keep your teen or young adult on track?  How do you parent when you suspect a drug addiction or eating disorder?

Policing vs. Parenting

Policing their choices, or attempting to control the who, what, when, and where’s of their lives, seems like a logical strategy to attempt when things have fallen far from deviant. Parents police for various reasons. With threat upon their young adult’s safety, parents impose restrictions, struggling to keep their families intact and their children alive.  Others aim to regulate their adult child’s actions, masking the severity of the situation from friends and family.  Parents look for a sense of control as they try to subdue the chaos and destruction that has taken over their adult children’s lives.  Decisions to enforce guidelines and restrictions for adult children, choices intended to help, may actually enable addiction and ultimately lead to dangerous outcomes. Ultimately, they unwittingly reinforce an experience of inadequacy, ineffectiveness and loss of authority within the young adult.

Where to Turn

If you find yourself trying to control your young adult’s every move, you may feel overwhelmed with anxiety and alone.  With crisis present at all times, you pray for solutions. You’ve come to a dead end, not sure how the situation will ever turn around.  One thing is for sure, change has to happen.

It will take everyone’s combined effort to initiate positive change.  Parents and young adults, in collaboration, negotiating limitations and agreeing on a set of consequences, often see positive results. While parents need to let addicted young adults know where their boundaries are and what they are not willing to support, acknowledging an adult child’s voice, view, and vision may be what it takes to turn things around. Empower young adults to take control of their wellness. This may sound impossible, but trust in your adult child and expand your support system to include skilled professionals. Bringing others into the system may unlock powerful stalemates.

With an open outlook and attitude, families experiencing these struggles will need to welcome professional help. The Life Strategies Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at Yellowbrick provides adults ages 18-30 years old the outlet to explore identity, gain self-acceptance and regulation, and emerge as young adults while partnering with comforting, compassionate skilled professionals.  With peer community involvement as a cornerstone to Yellowbrick’s treatment experience, developmental processes help young adults evolve and be successful in school, work, and society. Learn more.

Positive parenting works, even when addiction threatens the health and safety of adult children.  By helping adult children recognize healthy limits, negotiating acceptable boundaries, and seeking a support network, parents can empower their young adults to make choices for a safe, productive and meaningful summer for them and the entire family.