The Georgia College Parent and Family Newsletter
Parenting a Perfectionist
Parents know that getting into a great college is competitive, but the admission phase is only the beginning. The pressure to maintain a high GPA, make the dean's list, get into your top choice major, score a great internship, and do all of that while having a social life can make college seem like a great, big pressure cooker. It's no wonder students are experiencing anxiety at alarming rates. According to the American College Health Association, 63% of college students experience anxiety, and that trend is on the rise.
Social media just compresses their stress. Students are bombarded by their peers' carefully cultivated online images that give the illusion of perfection. The pressure to conform to unreal standards might make them feel inadequate and overwhelmed by expectations. That mounting pressure makes many students shut down, especially those who are perfectionists. They won't turn in the homework assignment if it isn't perfect. They won't try out for something unless they are sure they'll make it. They don't want to risk a poor performance.
Nationwide, students of Generation Z are suffering from a fear of failure. The fear of taking a difficult class that could dent their GPA, or of taking a semester to study abroad for fear of delaying graduation, stops them from experiencing the growth of a challenge. And when parents or college administrators clear their paths of all hardship, students also miss the growth that comes with failure.
Failing teaches us our greatest lessons. When they were babies learning to walk, you held your breath while they stumbled and fell. It was only by trial and error that they learned to balance. That process of stumbling must happen with college students as well. They need to experience a disappointing grade fairly earned, a roommate conflict, or a job rejection to learn the skills to overcome those obstacles.
We are rapidly approaching the end of the semester. Anxiety about final exams is beginning to take hold. For perfectionists, that anxiety can feel paralyzing. Some students adopt bad habits like pulling all-nighters and cramming for tests -- and even worse -- abusing prescription drugs and other substances to manipulate their moods. The outcomes are rarely positive.
Talk to your student now about the game plan. How can they return from Thanksgiving Break in the right mindset? How can they identify their stress triggers and deescalate before things feel out of control? And in the big picture, what will happen if they don't achieve perfection every time?
A common refrain in student development is "challenge and support." Challenge them to try the difficult, unfamiliar, uncomfortable things. Support them in their growth through those challenges, especially when they stumble. By reassuring them that failure is OK, and even necessary, you can help your student lean into their experiences and embrace the benefits that result from imperfection.
Save the date for Siblings Day 2020! Younger siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and family friends are invited to spend the day with their favorite college kid on Saturday, February 8, 2020. More information coming soon to www.gcsu.edu/parent!
Talking to Your Student About the Risks and Realities of Vaping | DeLexia Walker '21
Georgia College is a tobacco-free campus, yet every day I see students walking around using vapes and e-cigarettes. Many people in Generation Z do not smoke traditional cigarettes, understanding the health risks of smoking. Instead, they tend to gravitate towards electronic cigarettes and vapes, thinking they are more healthy alternatives.
Vapes, Juul, and e-cigarettes are rather new, so their health effects have not fully been observed, but recent news stories of serious injury and even deaths tied to vaping are cause for alarm. What's worse, these electronic forms of tobacco, nicotine, and even marijuana consumption are targeted toward teens and young adults through marketing and design. These products are often disguised to look like a pen or flash drive and are fruit and candy flavored to be appealing to the target audience.
Students need to know that vaping may not actually be any safer than smoking cigarettes. With the new marketing of these vapes, Juul, and e-cigarettes, nicotine addiction in the younger generation is rising. With the long-term effects of these devices not yet determined, it is important that parents take the first step in raising awareness about the dangers of these devices. These electronic forms of nicotine and tobacco consumption are assumed to create the same health problems of smoking a traditional cigarette. Even though they may taste good and look cool to your student, a reminder of the seriousness of heart disease, lung disease, addiction, and cancer is in order, especially if you have family history.
We understand that it can be difficult to talk to your student about these topics. Though they might resist talking about it, parents can have a powerful effect on student behaviors. Here at Georgia College there is a peer-run health group called Health Movement that can help continue this conversation with your student. The annual Great American Smokeout is November 14 -- that's a great opportunity to start the conversation. Here are some tips to facilitate a meaningful dialogue with your student:
- Encourage an open discussion. Be willing to hear the ugly truth if your student is vaping.
- Make sure that you and your student have a chance to discuss your values without judgment. The first conversation doesn't have to be the last!
- Ask open-ended questions that require more than a one-word answer.
- When you don’t know something, admit it and research the topic with your student. Learning together will help you find common ground.
- Try to identify why your student started vaping. Are they feeling pressure from a friend group? Are they trying to cope with stress? Getting at the root of the issue will help you find a solution.
- Discuss alternative strategies to address their reasons for vaping. When college is a distant memory, they could still be living with the lifelong health consequences of their choices.
DeLexia Walker is a junior from Macon, GA. She is majoring in Public Health and serves as a Peer Health Educator with the student group Health Movement.
Renting Off-Campus: Tips from Experienced Parents
Your rising sophomore, junior, or senior is already starting to explore their housing options for next year. Many students will move off-campus and embark on the adult milestone of renting a house or apartment. By signing that lease, your student is taking on some very pricey obligations!
Talking with your student about the potential pitfalls of renting off-campus will help make their rental experience a smoother transition. Below are some tips and lessons learned from current Georgia College parents:
- A lease or rental agreement is a legally binding document. Make sure you review it carefully with your student and highlight any concerning elements to negotiate with the landlord or leasing agency. If the contract is non-negotiable, you might want to search for alternatives.
- Prepare your student to do a thorough walk-through of the unit before moving in. They should document any existing damages in writing and with photos and submit those to the lessor. At the move-out inspection, your student should have a copy of the documentation to dispute undue damage charges.
- Help your student scrutinize signing deals. Does a gift card at signing justify the cost or condition of the property?
- Verify the safety features of the unit before moving in. Is the smoke detector functional? Do the windows open and lock securely? Is there a fire extinguisher, or should you buy one? Visit the property at night. Is there ample lighting and safe walkways from the parking lot or bus stop?
- Make sure your student understands all of their routine and potential expenses. Which utilities, if any, are included in the rent? How will the roommates divide the bills? If one roommate moves out, are the others on the hook for the vacant unit? What are the consequences of breaking the lease early?
If off-campus living doesn't feel like the right move for your student, know that many choose to stay in campus housing for another year or more. Here is a reminder of important dates for securing on-campus housing for next year:
December 1, 2019 - University Housing 2020-21 application opens
January 13, 2020 - Deadline for residents in upperclass-designated spaces to renew rooms
January 15, 2020 - Open room selection 2020-21 opens
Attention, Senior Families!
Graduation applications for May 2020 and August 2020 graduation were due September 13, but many seniors have not submitted their materials yet. Time is running out! Only students who have submitted their applications by November 13 will have their names appear in the Commencement program. That's a keepsake you don't want to miss!
Wondering what else your senior should be doing? Here are some opportunities hosted by the Career Center to enhance their job or graduate school search:
- Employer Mock Interview Day for Education Majors - November 13. Students can sign up for a timeslot by logging onto Handshake through their Unify.
- Career Center After Dark - November 13, 5-7 p.m. in 110 Lanier Hall
- Employer Mock Interview Day for All Majors - November 20. Students can sign up for a timeslot by logging onto Handshake through their Unify.
- LinkedIn Meet-up - Every Thursday, 3-4 p.m. in 140 Lanier Hall