We live in an idyllic community. Having lived in or outside New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, I have some perspective on the greatness of growing up in the Connecticut suburbs. The problems of many kids growing up on the Shoreline in towns like Guilford, Madison, Old Saybrook, Essex, Old Lyme, and East Lyme are a thinner slice of the top layer of first world problems. I feel badly for anyone young person who feels badly. But not getting to start on the baseball team or getting a main part in the school play is not really a problem of any magnitude.
The real challenge for many students in these affluent Connecticut suburbs starts with the college process. Having grown up in small towns that are wonderful in protecting them from hardship, many high school students in this area are not equipped to deal with the hard work necessary to embrace the next stage. The college process involves dealing with big picture questions that cause internal conflict; taking the SATs which causes stress, and writing college essays which creates both confusion and stress.
Our work, not just in SAT prep but in college counseling, involves helping our students – and parents – embrace this reality. We do so as gently as possible. It is far better to deal with the challenges of the SAT in our class than it is on test day and it is far easier to work with a writing coach than to struggle with writer’s block through the summer.
College is great. The college process is not! We can help.