Top psychologist warns parents of college applicants: Manage your own stress first

Even well-meaning parents may be unintentionally contributing to a more stressful experience for their teenager during the college admission process,” says adolescent and adult psychologist Dr. Montgomery. This week, SocratesPost continues the convo on how parents contribute to their teenagers’ stress and what to do about it. Catch up on part 1

Dr. Montgomery offers counseling services to college-bound students struggling with stress and anxiety. He also specializes in psychological testing to substantiate disability (i.e. ADHD, learning disorders, anxiety and depression) as required for accommodations on college entrance exams (SAT, ACT) graduate school admission exams (GRE, LSAT, MCAT, DAT) and professional exams (USMLE, BAR Exam).

Exclusive Insider Interview: Adolescent and Adult Psychologist from The OC Psychology Center for Assessment & Psychotherapy

SocratesPost: That’s very insightful. I’ve heard these myself and must admit I’ve even made some of these errors as well. In your experience, what is the biggest misunderstanding about the mental health aspect of college admissions?
Dr. Montgomery: Giving too much attention to success and performance at the expense of cultivating a balanced and healthy lifestyle can be detrimental to students.
SocratesPost: What does it look like to give too much attention to those aspects of life?
Dr. Montgomery: Many parents and students believe that success during the college admissions process is achieved by taking as many AP classes as possible and participating in as many extracurriculars as possible. AP classes and extracurriculars are worthwhile. However, too many obligations can lead to overwhelm, stress, poor sleep, and not enough down time to rest and engage in enjoyable activities. Balancing work and rest often improves performance (and is much healthier for the body and mind).
…too many obligations can lead to overwhelm, stress, poor sleep, and not enough down time to rest and engage in enjoyable activities.
SocratesPost: What should parents know about it but don’t?
Dr. Montgomery: Parents should know how to effectively guide their child through the college admissions process in a manner that minimizes unnecessary stress.
SocratesPost: I’m sure many parents would love to do that, but how can they minimize unnecessary stress?
Dr. Montgomery: For parents this means learning to manage their own stress first. Even well-meaning parents may be unintentionally contributing to a more stressful experience for their teenager during the college admission process. Parents will find it helpful to monitor their thinking for the errors mentioned above, and to reflect on their own worries about the college admission process.
SocratesPost: That’s a great point. And parents are guilty of doing that sometimes. What else can parents do?
Here’s a preview of the rest of our conversation! Subscribe to read the rest and support our ad-free newsletter.
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SocratesPost: The difference between decision-maker, consultant, and guide might seem slight to some readers. What’s an example of acting as an experienced guide or consultant as opposed to a more detrimental role?
SocratesPost: Can you describe what you believe is a healthy way for adolescents and their families to approach college admissions?
SocratesPost: That’s such a helpful, yet simple tip. What other pointers would you give adolescents and their families approaching college?
Success and health are not mutually exclusive.
SocratesPost: As a top mental health professional, what’s your best piece of advice for our readers?
SocratesPost: Love that. Thanks so much for your expertise and insights today, Dr. Montgomery.
Stay tuned for a brand new insider interview next week! In the meantime, to learn more about Dr. Montgomery’s work, click here!

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