By Kirsten Johnston, Associate Director of Guidance, Values Advocate: Education of the Whole Person
A Big Year of Transition
This past year has been one of exploration and growth for our grads, including both challenges and joyful moments. They began their senior and final year at The Grove as budding leaders, unsure of how things would unfold. However, each experience, setback and celebration has been instrumental in helping them to prepare for the major life transition that lies ahead of them.
The Next Stage is About Possibility
Graduating from high school marks one of life’s greatest turning points. And whether our grads pursue a gap year to work, volunteer and travel, or continue onto post-secondary studies to focus their learning on a specific discipline and passion, the next year will no doubt be one of possibilities and rich experiences. We have every confidence that despite the challenges and uncertainty they will surely face, they also have what it takes to be successful. Their time at Lakefield – both within and beyond the classroom walls – has prepared them for the good, the hard, and the joyful moments that are sure to come.
Sometimes it’s about Surviving more than Thriving
While students are about to embark on what is often referred to as ‘the best time of their lives’, it is important to acknowledge that the transition will be one of challenge and will at times, require that they dig deep into their reservoirs of resilience. A recent study on college students in the U.S. found that “psychological well-being tends to be at its lowest point the moment one enters college,” and that while anxiety peaks during the first semester each year, “the most challenging time of all is one’s first year of university.” Knowing and preparing for this will be critical to their success. Equally important is grounding this reality in optimism; while the statistics can be daunting, knowing that students are not alone in their struggles is, in fact, one of the most powerful forces to help them flourish.
LCS vs. University: Some Key Differences to Keep in Mind
While students inherently know that life at university will be more difficult, they might not always appreciate some of the significant changes that will exist, simply in the ways in which they will be expected to learn and process information. The following differences between life at LCS and post-secondary were recently highlighted to our grads through their guidance classes:
|Time is structured by others.
|Students manage their own time.
|Parents and teachers remind students of priorities and responsibilities.
|Students must balance their responsibilities and priorities.
|Classes are small.
|Classes may have hundreds of students.
|Teachers monitor attendance.
|No one usually takes attendance.
|School is responsible for knowing student graduation requirements.
|Students are responsible for knowing and fulfilling complex graduation requirements.
|Teachers are available and seek individual students out to provide help.
|Professors often see themselves as expert researchers and may not be that interested in teaching.
|Assignments are discussed and reviewed in class.
|Students will have lots of readings, not directly addressed in class.
|Testing is frequent, covering small amounts of material.
|Testing is infrequent, covering a large volume of material.
|Teachers will rearrange test dates to accommodate conflicts.
|Professors will be oblivious to outside activities and will expect you to complete assignments as scheduled.
|Teachers provide substantial support, thinking about student success and helping students do their very best.
|Students can expect, at least, a 10-point drop in grades from high school to first-year university. Combined research out of Brock and Ottawa Universities found that nearly half of all first-year students saw their marks decline by at least one letter grade, and 23 percent by two letter grades or more. Marks tend to rise again in upper years, as classes decrease in size and students refine their interests, gain greater skills and experience navigating the university system.
THRIVE – Keeping Habits and Practices in Place
There are many strategies and tips we can provide students in helping them to navigate their life beyond The Grove and while at university. Some of these are more obvious, such as attending all of one’s classes, knowing deadlines and keeping up with readings, assignments and labs. Others might be less obvious and include meeting with a faculty advisor throughout the year, making use of the academic skills and writing centres on campus, and sitting in the front row of lectures as a way to enhance engagement and comfort level to ask questions.
Our hope is that students will also keep in mind one of the values that they hopefully absorbed during their time at LCS – the emphasis on the education of the whole person – in body, mind and spirit– and to use this as a template to emulate beyond life at The Grove. With this in mind, if students think about THRIVE as representing six buckets to fill during their time after LCS, they will be equipping themselves with many well-being tools to succeed both in learning and in life.
This is Farewell, Rather Than Goodbye
We want our students to know that although we are celebrating their success and time as students at The Grove, we value the relationships we have developed and will continue to be here, both as a community and as a source of continued support. We are looking forward to reaching out at key points next year – in the fall when their new journey begins, mid-way through the year when potentially facing their first set of university exams, and again in the spring – as a way to offer resources and tools for continued success.
Resources That We Recommend
And finally, we would like to share a selection of resources, some of which have been quoted from within this article, which may provide insight, guidance and ideas to help you navigate the next stage of your child’s education.
- U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (& Life) by Daniel Lerner & Alan Schlechter
- The Upside of Stress, by Kelly McGonigal.
- Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk: How to Make Stress Your Friend
- The Stressed Years of Their Lives – Helping Your Kids Survive and Thrive during the College Years by Janet Hibbs, Ph.D. & Anthony Rostain, M.D., M.A.
- NPR’s Podcast: Why College Students are so Stressed
Positive Education and Well-being:
- The Future of Happiness: 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-being in the Digital Era, by Amy Blankson
- The Strength Switch: How the New Science of Strength-based Parenting Can Help Your Teen to Flourish, by Lea Waters, Ph.D.
- The Ripple Effect: Sleep Better, Eat Better, Move Better, Think Better, by Greg Wells, Ph.D.
- Good Life Practice: A Quick Start Guide to Mindful Self-Regulation, by Dave Mochel
- The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate & Ignite Your Positive Personality, by Ryan Niemiec, Psy.D. and Robert E. McGrath, Ph.D.
- Under Pressure, by Lisa Damour, Ph.D.
- Podcast with Lisa Damour, Ph.D: Teens Under Pressure