Here’s how to help our teens cope with their pre-college entrance test anxiety.
Many of our teens are moving on to the next stage in their lives: college. But to get into college, they’ll need to pass the big, bad college entrance test (CET). Despite all the reviewing they’ve done, there will always be that little voice in their head that pokes them with the possibility of failing. But here are some ways we can help our teens cope with their pre-college entrance test anxiety.
1. Encourage them to read books.
What makes the English part of a college entrance test so exhausting is the walls of text our teens will have to read. They’ll be reading short excerpts of old stories, journals, news clippings, and a variety of other things. Letting them read some books will help boost their confidence in comprehending the stories and excerpts given to them during the test.
2. Assure them you’ll love them no matter what college they get into.
A lot of us are UAAP fans and can be quite hardcore for our alma maters. There’s pride in being a full Blue Eagle family and there’s also some in being a whole line of Green Archers. But this kind of thing can cause unnecessary anxiety in our teens as it suddenly devolves into an “all-or-nothing” situation. Remind them that the important part is that they get into a college. Transferring can be dealt with later if they wish to transfer.
3. Let them choose their college courses.
A lot of times, we, parents, decide what our teens will major in. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Colleges have divisions in their course: one being an honor or quota course and the other being the regular ones. Some of the courses we demand they get into are also high in demand, adding more pressure onto them and creating unnecessary competition. Sometimes, it’s better we recommend one for them and then let them choose the rest. Colleges usually allow our teens 3 to 4 choices.
4. Don’t compare!
Filipinos love to compare but that’s just making things more toxic. It adds unnecessary pressure because it makes our teens want to make us proud so they can see us talk about them with that same pride. Focus purely on their efforts. Our teens don’t need to feel that they have another thing to contend for when they already know that they’re fighting around 10,000+ more students for only 2,000 slots during the college entrance exams.
5. Respect their wishes.
It’s hard to respect our teens’ wishes especially when it goes against tradition. But remember, we were once like them. We forced ourselves to go to the family reunion even though there were some parts of the Math we were confused with right before the college entrance test. We certainly didn’t like dragging our feet to those events and did it out of obligation — something easily spotted by relatives which may cause more drama.
Repeat after us: “Not your teens’ parent, no opinion.” No relative has a right to squawk and call your teens rude when they’re desperately trying to jump over the hurdle to make it into college.
6. Engage in little forms of affection (i.e. hugging).
When teens are stressed, they sometimes regress back into being children. They become a little more clingy because they’re scared and confused. The idea of flunking the college entrance test and disappointing us causes our teens to suffer a terrifying amount of anxiety. Sometimes, words need not be said. All it takes is a little hug to help them get back on their feet.
7. Don’t discriminate between colleges.
We know that each college has its specialty but that doesn’t stop us from discriminating against the other colleges. Some of us have persistent and strong biases against other colleges because of their past reputation. But if those biases are voiced out, our teens might find themselves cornered because they’ll see that college is not an option.
8. Assure them that they won’t go to the testing area alone.
Some teens are more prone to getting lost than they should. As if that wasn’t anxiety-inducing enough, it’s also being in a sea of people with no familiar faces. It may be silly but accompanying our teens on the day of the college entrance test to the testing area can help soothe them. There are restaurants or malls nearby to stay for a few hours so that if something goes wrong, we’ll respond right away. UP and Ateneo have UP Town Center, La Salle has Robinsons Ermita, and UST has a few coffee shops nearby — there’s always a nesting place in the area.
And if you can’t go, grab one of their cousins to go with them. Preferably someone who is an alumna/alumnus of the college so they know the area. Just don’t forget to treat that said cousin with pizza, milk tea, or snacks for the trouble.
9. Memorize the map on where to go.
While dealing with their pre-college entrance test anxiety, our teens will forget to find a map of where to go. Although it’s a test of their independence, it’ll be good for us to know where it is, too. That way if Grab or Angkas can’t get to them, we can. We will never, ever, leave our teens stranded no matter where they are.
Our teens need support, not pressure.
Although we try to regale our teens with stories about our college years, it sometimes doesn’t help. What happened 20 or 30 years ago will certainly not apply to them, especially after the pandemic. So instead of saying, “You need to pass (insert college here)!” to our teens, tell them this: “No matter what college you end up in, what matters is you made it. We can deal with the details later.”