The latest on paying for college, mental health support for students and more.

Teenage boyProtecting your student’s mental health Believe it or not, colleges do understand that gaining admission to their institutions is an anxiety-laden process and unfair to some less-advantaged students. Lisa Heffernan and Jennifer Wallace provide highlights of a new report, “Turning the Tide,” released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and its Making Caring Common project that addresses the negative impact of the current admissions process on the emotional health of teenagers. The report’s authors propose college admissions focus more on who a student is and how much engagement they’ve had in their community rather than on their test scores and how many APs and extracurriculars they’ve participated in. Over 80 college deans, professors and high school guidance counselors support the report.

In her post on Grown & Flown, Lori Stratton, a mom and high school teacher, provides advice for parents on relieving teenage stress and making it easier for kids to enjoy their high school years instead of simply plowing through them.

sad girlAs parents, we often set up our college freshmen with unrealistic expectations about life on campus, forgetting our own difficult first weeks/months of college and ignoring how social media, smart phones and computers have impacted, sometimes negatively, the way kids interact today. If you have a high school senior or a college freshmen, make it a point to read this article by Michelle Ruiz in Seventeen that explores the challenges faced by first year college students today as they try to adjust to their new life in an unfamiliar place.

If you find your teen struggling at college, read this post on Grown & Flown by Lisa Damour in which she explains how to find a therapist for your college student.

When students must withdraw from college due to mental health issues, returning can be met with roadblocks. Joel Brown writes in BU Today about a Boston University program helping students who have left college make their way back to campus.

[Also read my post on college students and depression to recognize the warning signs in your own child.]

Pencil and calculatorSolutions to paying for college Comparison shopping when it comes to college makes a big difference, whether it’s financial aid packages, public vs. private universities and types of loans. Take this quiz by Jillian Berman of the Wall Street Journal to learn more about the real cost of college and the smartest ways to pay for it. First-timers especially will benefit from the very informative answers.

If you think all public universities are a bargain, read Susan Svrluga’s article for the Washington Post to understand the disparity in costs among state colleges.

When comparing college acceptance offers, families must focus heavily on financial aid packages, especially when they don’t have enough money saved to pay the four-year tuition bill. Judy Mollen Walters shares her family’s experience finding the most affordable private college for her daughter in her post on Road2College.

Wendy Nelson, of My Kid’s College Choice, covers how to spot a front-loaded financial aid package and why you should be wary if your student is offered one.

piggy-bank-on-moneyThough parents and students often view college as an investment, in an article for the Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel discusses the new trend of investors buying shares in college students.

[Check out my posts on deciphering financial aid packages to learn more about paying for college.]

Social media’s influence on college admissions More college admissions officers review applicants’ social media pages than they did in 2008, according to a survey by Kaplan Test Prep. Though colleges look at students’ pages for different reasons, teens need to know what they should and shouldn’t put up on their social media pages.

Share your thoughts on these articles, and others you’ve found helpful, in the comments section below.