The College Application Process: How to Help Your Teen Navigate the Stress

The College Application Process: How To Help Your Teen Navigate The Stress


The high school years are significantly more difficult for teens to navigate now as compared to 20 years ago.  In 2023, the stakes are high with teens focused on straight A’s, multiple extracurricular activities, sports, volunteer hours, and more.  All of the efforts from 9th through 11th grades culminate in completing and submitting college applications at the beginning of their Senior year.

written by Aimee Kitchen

It is important to remember that teens often need extra help and reassurance during this time. As a parent or guardian, take a moment to educate yourself to recognize the signs of stress and provide support when needed. The sooner you take action, the more likely you are to see positive results in your teen.  The key is to stay proactive and provide support when needed so that your teen can be successful in their college application process.

As a mental health counselor, I have seen firsthand the impact that the college application process can have on teens.

Some common signs of stress include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Falling grades
  • Changes in appetite
  • Mood swings

If you notice any of these signs in your teen, it is important to talk to them about how they are feeling. Let them know that you are there to support them and that you understand the pressure they are under.

No matter how well-prepared your teen may be, the college application process can be a daunting experience. The pressure to get into their dream school combined with the long list of requirements, deadlines, and forms can lead to teens feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

The college application process can be stressful, but it is important to remember that it is a temporary challenge. By providing support and guidance, you can help your teen stay calm and focused.

There are a number of things you can do to help your teen navigate the college application process:

Talk to your teen about their goals, expectations, and needs so that you can work together to develop a plan for tackling the various components of college applications. This strategy will help ensure they have everything they need while also making sure they stay on track.  Ultimately, this will make for a smoother process that is less overwhelming and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Help create a timeline to stay organized and on track.

Having an organized approach to the college application process is essential for reducing stress and increasing success. Start by helping your teen create a timeline of important dates such as deadlines for applications, tests, financial aid forms, and scholarship applications. This will ensure that they are aware of all the requirements and have plenty of time to complete them.

Encourage them to reach out for help.

Additionally, encourage your teen to reach out for help from adults who can provide guidance and advice on how to make their application stand out. Taking advantage of these resources will ensure that your teen has a well-rounded approach to the process and can submit their best applications.

Help them find balance.

Make sure your teen sets aside time for relaxation and self-care activities such as exercise, art, music or social activities with friends. By providing support and resources, you can help reduce stress and anxiety as your teen navigates the college application process.

The college application process can be a stressful time for teens, but it is also an exciting time. With your support, your teen can navigate this challenge and find the perfect college for them.

If you have a teen who needs more than you can provide, schedule an appointment with me.


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