Kids within the U.S. are locked in a mental health crisis. Pressure from a young age to get right into a “good college,” because the only path to a successful adult life, could also be making it worse.
That is why parenting researcher and writer Jennifer Breheny Wallace teaches her own three children a quite simple concept. “The very first thing we want to do is get out of our heads that there may be such a thing as a ‘good college,'” Wallace tells CNBC Make It.
Wallace wrote the book “Never Enough: When Achievement Pressure Becomes Toxic — and What We Can Do About It,” after working with a researcher on the Harvard Graduate School of Education to survey 6,500 parents across the U.S. (Wallace herself holds a level from Harvard University.)
In her own residence, she and her husband attempt to “dial down the pressure around college admissions” by reminding their three children — including a highschool senior — that college rankings are subjective, and that their future success and happiness is not contingent on where they go to high school.
You’ll be able to save your kids, and yourself, a variety of stress by “deflating that myth that college prestige is the key to success,” says Wallace.
Attending a prestigious college — or, any college, really — doesn’t guarantee any ideal future, research shows. You’ll be able to, and will, provide your kids with real examples of blissful and successful individuals who didn’t attend a highly-selective college, Wallace says.
“Everyone knows individuals who went to those highly selective schools whose lives didn’t end up in addition to that they had hoped,” she says. “And all of us have adults in our lives, who [went to] schools we have never even heard of before, whose lives turned out extraordinary.”
Parents must also teach children to get probably the most out of their education, irrespective of where they find yourself, says Wallace.
Amongst college graduates, future wellbeing primarily is determined by the experiences you accrue while on campus, based on a 2014 survey of 30,000 U.S. college graduates by Gallup and Purdue University.
Which may include extracurricular activities, a very engaging internship or finding a mentor who helped make learning more enjoyable.
“Principally, it boiled all the way down to: Did those students [feel] like they mattered to their campus?” Wallace says.
Wallace and her husband attempt to limit college-related discussions to only “one hour over the weekend,” unless he brings up the subject, she says: “We’re all the time available to him, but we actually watch how persistently per week the word ‘college’ comes out of our mouths.”
After they do discuss college, Wallace says they struggle to center the conversation around “this concept of mattering on campus,” reasonably than looking for out the varsity with probably the most prestigious rating.
She asks questions like: What school could be the perfect “fit,” where you are feeling like you may make an impact on campus?
That reframes the school discussion right into a much less stressful exercise, and highlights the aspects that more accurately predict future success and overall wellbeing, says Wallace.
“We might be deliberate about what actually results in the nice life we wish for our children, based on many years of science,” she says. “And that’s having good relationships, having purposeful work, and feeling competent in those pursuits.”