The beginning of the school year can be a terrifying time for the teenage mind. New expectations, new routines, and worst of all, new friends, all combine to create the perfect storm of social anxiety.
Going into college prepared means having learned these skills to a ‘T’. Students who can effectively navigate social settings, and manage conflicts are in the best position for success in college.
New research highlighted in the New York Times from David S. Yeager, ‘a leading voice in the growing effort to help college students stay in school,’ and Carol Dweck, famous for her work with growth and fixed mindsets, have pointed to teens’ ability to learn social anxiety coping strategies. One can teach students these skills; they’re not permanent predilections.
Critical to the research, teenage depression is at nearly 11 percent, and many teenagers battle high stress daily. Despite that, research sees rates of coping skills as “weak.”
At Winterline, we’ve structured all of our gap year programs to be heavily oriented toward these peer-related skills, skills that we see as essential for life, career, and work in the 21st century. From the start or our program, students practice team-building and leadership skills, non-violent communication, and conflict mediation. Throughout their months abroad, experienced Field Advisors lead by example. Students observe how to navigate conflict, negotiate, bargain, and empathize with peers and colleagues.
Dr. Yeager’s suggestion that students learn ways to “hold onto a long view” is exactly what we teach during our Global Skills Programs. When you travel the world and learn skills in their appropriate context, you immediately begin to connect the dots between what you’re doing on a daily basis and the impacts you can have in the world.
The gap year is the perfect opportunity to distance yourself and recalibrate. Doing so will help you figure out what you’re good at and how you want to impact the world.