North Shore Counseling Department

February News

How To Talk To Children And Teens About Violence

You are watching the news and another unspeakable tragedy has occurred. As a parent you may wonder how to talk with your child about this. What do you say? These are hard conversations to have, but important ones.

As parents, we can't promise that nothing bad will happen to our child. What we can promise is that the adults in a child's life will work tirelessly and collaboratively to keep them safe. The most important message a parent can give following an act of violence is one of safety. With twenty-four-hour news many people feel surrounded by violence. Yet, adults can help children understand that there is a difference between the possibility of an act of violence and the probability that one will occur. It is important to turn off the tv and engage in a positive and fun activity as a family. Laughter, exercise, togetherness helps to "reset" the way in which we all view the world around us. Older teens have a harder time disconnecting from their social media platforms and this can create some secondary trauma as teens and pre-teens repeatedly view images of violence. Talk with your teen about other activities they can engage in and consider limiting their screen time.

Children of all ages may have questions following a violent act and it is often difficult to know how to respond. When talking with younger children ask them first what they have heard or already know about the incident before you just start sharing information. There is no need to disclose specific details if they are not already aware of them since we do not wish to frighten them. Older children will have a different response because they often know the full details. With our pre-teens or teens it is important that we empower them to learn safety techniques such as reporting strangers, being kind to everyone and reporting students who are making threats or engaging in risky behavior to a counselor, social worker, teacher or school administrator.

If you ever have questions about how to talk to your child or are concerned by your child's behavior please contact your counselor and / or social worker.

College Admissions Trends And Applying Sideways

This is scheduling season and many students and parents want to know what courses are the best ones to take for college admissions. The National Association of College Admissions Counseling surveys colleges and publishes the list of factors used in admissions decisions (Admissions Trend Survey 2017). Number 1 on the list of considerably important factors is grades in college prep courses with 76.9% of colleges rating this as most important. The second factor listed is grades in all high school classes and number 3 on the list is strength in curriculum (51.8%).

In a nutshell, colleges are encouraging students to take challenging courses to the extent that they can be highly successful. If you do well in a subject area by all means take the most challenging class. However, if taking a more challenging course would result in a significantly lower grade then it may not be to your advantage to accelerate. All course decisions should be made collaboratively with parents, students, counselors and teachers because every student is unique.

A few years ago Chris Peterson, the Assistant Director of Admissions at MIT shared a blog called "Applying Sideways." MIT is a highly selective college and he is frequently asked what do you have to do to get accepted by MIT? In his blog he states "there is literally nothing that in and of itself will get you in to MIT." He further explained by saying that MIT once denied a student who built a fully-functional nuclear reactor in his garage. If this student didn't get in to MIT then who does? What follows below is an excerpt from Mr. Peterson's blog where he explains why you should be encouraged by this news.

"This story should be incredibly encouraging for most students. It should be liberating. Why? Because over a thousand other students were admitted to MIT that year, and none of them built a nuclear reactor! I don't mean to discourage anyone from pursuing incredible science and technology research on their own. If you want to do it, DO IT. But don't do it because you think it's your ticket to MIT. And that applies to everything you do - classes, SATs, extracurricular activities. There is no golden ticket. So breathe."

Instead of looking for the "golden ticket" Mr. Peterson suggests that students pursue their passion, learn for the sake of learning, be kind to others and do their best in school. Now that is an interesting message from an MIT admissions officer and something to think about as you juggle classes, extracurriculuar activities and family time.