Recently, Westridge seniors and their parents gathered in the PAC to hear a panel of college and university representatives give the 4-1-1 on college life at their schools. “College 4-1-1” was the first event in a new, three-part series titled “Next Steps,” which aims to prepare seniors and their parents for life in college beyond academics. Subsequent sessions will look at finances and life skills.
“In the fall, we invited graduates and their parents from the classes of 2005-2017 to brunch to determine how we could better help our current students,” said Director of College Counseling Lynn O’Grady. “We learned that students are prepared academically but there is a lot more we can do beyond academics.”
“College 4-1-1” brought deans of students from University of Southern California, Loyola Marymount University, and Occidental College, as well as the director of admission at Harvey Mudd to Westridge to provide insight ranging from how roommates are selected to what to expect at orientation day (and reminded students and parents alike to be kind during move-in, because the fight they’ll have over where to hang the poster isn’t really about the poster at all). They also addressed what support systems are in place to assist students with physical health, stress management, social issues, and homesickness.
When asked their opinion of the biggest challenge facing college freshman, the panelists responded with a variety of answers, including time management, the ability to perform basic tasks (such as laundry, filling prescriptions, managing money, etc.), transitioning from being at the top of the class to being surrounded by other straight-A students, and learning to ask for help when struggling mentally, emotionally, or academically. They suggested that parents take time during the summer to teach students to do their laundry and to have conversations about dealing with the homesickness, stress, and other difficult situations that are bound to arise.
The “Next Steps” series will address some of these challenges in the two remaining events this year: “Finances — Yours, Mine, and Ours” on May 9, when seniors and their parents will hear real stories regarding financial decisions, planning, and responsibility, and “College — Living 101” on June 1, which will provide seniors with a practical “life skills” workshop for students living away from home.
“The feedback we’ve received has been beyond positive,” said O’Grady. “One senior said it was the best event she has attended in her entire time at Westridge, and the college representatives shared that there isn’t another high school in the country that is doing what Westridge is doing to prepare our students for life in college.”