Life is unpredictable; even when you are a teen and the world should have a rosy glow. One day everything is progressing and building as expected and, in the next breath, existence is a virtual free fall. There are many things that can interrupt the anticipated progression through the high school years.
Natural Disasters – Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and earthquakes can change a student’s life in seconds. It is amazing how often these tend to happen in the middle of the college application season. Power outages and post office closures make it difficult to communicate with colleges. Instead of writing essays, kids are rescuing neighbors and trying to save their family belongings.
Financial Upheavals – It can be devastating when the solo breadwinner of the family loses a job or whose company doesn’t survive. The family might suddenly be scrambling to put food on the table. Sometimes they lose their home, their source of transportation, and must give up outside activities. Security vanishes like a puff of smoke.
Health Issues – Students can be sidelined with illness or injury, sometimes fleeting, sometimes chronic and long-lived. On occasion, a slower schedule can help. Other times, school must be suspended for weeks, months, or years during recovery. Heath issues of others can also impact teens. Close family members can get ill requiring the child to provide loving care instead of pursuing the normal activities like soccer and art class.
Death – The thing a student fears most is losing a parent. But it happens and kids must somehow find a way to move forward with their lives. Not only is there the emotional upheaval, but often a financial one as well.
I have been honored to work with teens who fell into all the above categories. Because life interrupted their plans, they got to the college application and realized that it had glaring deficiencies or an unusual set of activities. It took a special strategy that was personalized for each student to explain to colleges their special circumstances, how they made the best of an awful situation, and what they did to grow through it.
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