A recent article in Edutopia by Jill Flury suggested that many teens are not emotionally ready for college, and it is our fault! In spite of the fact that kids are put into the college fast track in elementary school, institutions are providing support to meet college admissions requirements, there are tutors to help teens get into the college of their choice (for those who can afford it), and parents are pushing kids to "do it all," there are plenty of kids who do not make it through the first year at universities nation-wide.
Ms. Flury suggests that the dropout rate is not about a lack of academic skills, instead it is because students are not being prepared for the transition to college - and the self-care that transition requires. College frosh are experiencing low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, stress, and health issues at record levels. Knowing how to write an essay, having a high GPA, playing an instrument, being an athlete, national scholar, or valedictorian, are not going to prepare a student for pressures of living independently. Very few school are giving teens the "wellness" skills they will need to manage stress, deadlines, and competing goals (like fun and schoolwork). There are exceptions, like the fitness and wellness program at Castilleja School, in Palo Alto, but these programs are not the norm.
This article suggests that we need to worry about teaching kids how to do laundry, cook, clean, maintain their car, manage money, handle the daily stress of competing goals, and find ways to take care of themselves emotionally, spiritually, and physically while juggling everything else in their lives - like school, relationships, and work. Teens seem to need a wellness course, in addition to living skills, and parents need to make sure this training is happening at schools or in their own homes. Maybe we are beginning to see that the overscheduled, AP track is not really working for our teens and as parents, we are going to have to help them pull back the reins and slow down!!