Johnson City, Tennessee (WJHL) – The college admissions season can bring a lot of emotions to students and their caregivers.
Gaining acceptance can still be accompanied by anxiety about change, and not being accepted can bring on feelings of rejection—both of which can negatively affect the mental health of students and parents.
“Often, there can be very unrealistic expectations; there may be a fear of, ‘I’m not going to be good enough,’” said Angie Tolle, Principal Therapist in Behavioral Health Outpatient Services at Ballad Health.
Mental health experts encourage parents to be aware of the pressures students can face.
Dr. said Rebecca Milner, ETSU Mentorship Program Coordinator: “Many people in our family history have attended this college or university, and you are next in line.” “You are the first in our family to go to college or university. Thus, we are looking forward to you, and we are very proud of you.”
recommended dr. Milner by paraphrasing the common term for the “rejection” letter as “rejected” or “not now” can help students deal with this process.
“If they don’t get into the college they want, it may be accompanied by feelings of sadness over the life path you might envision,” Dr. Milner said.
“It can really raise issues of loss and grief,” she continued. “There are things created that depict where they might go, and what the next step might look like. So, there are a variety of different things they might be sad about. That goes for parents.”
Health experts said it’s important to note that no single decision determines students or their future.
“This is the only decision at the moment,” said Dr. Holly English, school counselor at Science Hill High School. “It’s a big decision, but it’s not the final decision. It doesn’t have to be. It can be different if it has to be different. Who you are as a human being has nothing to do with the school you go to — your worth and your values are not in that.”
The English said that most of the anxiety you see during this time is healthy and stimulating. The bad news, she said, can help with resilience.
“Understand that if things don’t go the way we think they should … it doesn’t mean it’s the worst thing ever,” English said. “We can use that as an opportunity to do something good.”
Leaving space for your child can help him process his feelings and eventually talk about them, according to Tolly.
“Let’s just go for a walk,” Tolle said. “Often, as you walk together, the conversation can come. Focusing on the physical anxiety in the moment can help open that door for conversations later.”
Ultimately, this can include figuring out how to move forward.
“Taking pictures and telling a story through pictures, through creative writing, through drawing through other kinds of expressive activities and being confident or knowing that we understand things, even if we don’t say them out loud,” Milner said.
If it gets to the point where you’re concerned about your child’s anxiety, Milner said, reach out to a school counselor or mental health professional.