As both new and returning college students count down the days to head to college, the last things on many students' minds are organization, managing time, planning properly, and self-assessing.
The most important life skills needed to thrive in college, not just "barely survive", are the set of cognitive skills we call executive function skills. This set of skills are actions and abilities that carry out all of the things needed to do in a day, a week, and a semester.
Many students have difficulty planning, prioritizing, seeing and understanding time, thinking flexibly, managing emotions, controlling responses, "not thinking things through", starting and finishing tasks on time, and focusing. If you are thinking this sounds like an ADHD diagnosis, you are half correct, but undeveloped executive function skills can stand alone without an ADHD diagnosis!
Executive function skills are the most crucial set of skills which determine a student's success in college. If this set of cognitive processes are not solid, you will struggle mentally, socially, emotionally, and academically in college.
The biggest questions are how do I know if my executive function skills are weak, and what can I do about it.
The brief answers are: 1. you will struggle in college, and 2. you can practice and grow this set of skills with professional guidance.
New college students will know within the first six weeks if their executive function skills are solid enough to succeed first semester. Returning college students will know based on their ability to perform and succeed last semester.
Some signs that executive function skills are the cause of your challenges are:
1. your stress and anxiety will grow
2. your grades will suffer
3. you will not be able to "keep up"
4. you will not be able to organize and perform all that is expected of you
5. your self confidence will plummet
6. you will feel "like a failure"
7. you will feel ashamed and embarrassed
8. you will feel overwhelmed daily
9. you will feel like you will never be able to catch up
10. you will not know how to put one step in front of the other
This particular set of skills, EFS, are easy to build when college students, (high school students), partner with a professional executive function coach or psychologist. This set of skills will not be strengthened if left to your own direction.
If you feel like executive functioning is a struggle for you or your student, reach out. Connecting with an executive function coach NOW is key to semester success.