Students Sacrifice Wellbeing for Academics

Students Sacrifice Wellbeing for Academics

January 29th 2015, Written by Jahla Seppanen

In today’s education landscape, teenagers are asked to go above and beyond. The pursuit of excellence, however, can generate unhealthy perfectionism among students. The Indigo Education Company, as well as the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), believe that non-academic education is key to promoting both emotional health and academic achievement.

According to the 2014 annual survey by the American Psychology Association, teenage stress levels are far above those of working adults. Students express pressure to perform without flaw: to be the best in their classes, to win academic awards, and to take on extra-curricular activities by the handful. At this week’s Colorado Leadership Conference, Sheri Smith of the Indigo Education Company encouraged students to balance their personal dreams with external pressures.

Smith asked a room of over one hundred teenagers participating in FBLA, “How many of you have heard this before? ‘I think you should do this – you should go to this college, get these grades, and pursue this career.’” Every teenager in the room raised a hand.

“A should,” Smith explained to FBLA students, “is very different from a want.” Smith urged students to reconnect with their internal desires.

Smith asked FBLA students to share their personal desires by anonymously texting Smith’s cell phone. A stream of responses poured in: I want to be an aerospace engineer; I want to own my own business; I want to go to college out of state; I want to be happy, to be a mother, to love myself. The list of wants consisted of academic and career goals as well as hopes for personal wellbeing.

Smith believes that students have internalized perfectionist expectations and, in the process, have forgotten how to be happy.  “Learning to listen to your heart is a skill,” Smith said.

Developing non-academic skills, such as Confidence, Creativity, and Personal Effectiveness, can play a major role in balancing academic stressors. The Indigo Education Company and the FBLA both work to incorporate non-academic competencies into current education systems, enabling students to manage the stress associated with college applications and difficult homework.

A group of three students attending Smith’s talk explained that FBLA has given them the confidence to pursue their “wants” instead of their “shoulds.”

These girls are learning to reconnect with their individual goals, both academic and personal. “I’m the quiet type,” high school senior, Kailey, said. “[FBLA] helped me with Leadership, because I want to be in a position of influence and respect.”

Classmate Brianna said, “I’m very anti-social, and it’s given me experience in being social. [FBLA] built my confidence. School can feel like a popularity race, but now I feel like I should just be myself.”

Non-academic instruction can happen at school and in the home. Smith proposes an exercise for parents, which will help their students focus on the trajectory of their schooling while make the teenager feel acknowledged and listened to:

Ask your student what their “shoulds” are. Listen, but do not respond. Then ask the student to name their “wants.” What should result is a clear and honest look at the expectations your student is carrying, and the true passion they hope to develop through their education and career. Try helping your student develop a healthy notion of hard work that acknowledges their intrinsic brilliance.

Resource cited: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/teens-more-stressed-out-adults-survey-shows-n26921

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is a non-profit education association servicing over a quarter million students with career skills that will prepare them for the business world. FBLA goals include, developing competent, aggressive business leadership, strengthening the confidence of students in themselves and their work, and creating more interest in and understanding of American business enterprise.

Future Business Leaders Prepped for Success

Future Business Leaders Prepped for Success

January 27th 2015, Written by Jahla Seppanen

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Hundreds of high school students gathered in Denver this week for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Colorado Leadership Conference, hoping to answer this very question. Sheri Smith of the Indigo Education Company, among others, spoke with students about the skills they need to achieve their dreams.

“General manager for a sports team,” Andres Vizurraga of Littleton High School said, when asked to state his career plan.

“Owner of my own photography business,” said classmate Julia Arellano-Votaw.

Together with their fellow future business leaders, Andres and Julia formed a sea of teenagers all appearing as if they had worked in business for a decade: suits, ties, dresses, blazers, eye-contact, confidence, and – most of all – a plan.

This is the genius of FBLA, a non-profit education organization dedicated to preparing students for the business world. In an effort tobring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs, the FBLA cultivates vital skills not taught in traditional classrooms. At the Colorado Leadership Conference, students learned the importance of Resiliency, Self-Management, Teamwork, Personal Accountability, Negotiation, and Futuristic Thinking, among others. These non-academic skills, which are measured by Indigo Education’s Assessment technology, will directly and positively impact student success during the transition from classroom to career.

During the conference, CEO of the Indigo Education Company Sheri Smith spoke with FBLA students about career paths and values development. Smith is a believer in the power of non-academic strengths; she has tailored her company’s Assessment tool to measure skills gaps that may hinder students’ capacity for success after graduation. Indigo is currently partnering with schools across the nation, creating innovative ways to incorporate these underdeveloped job-skills into pre-existing curricula. Indigo, along with FBLA, believes that teaching non-academic skills will accelerate student success in and beyond the classroom.

Both Andres and Julia attest to the positive impact FBLA’s business training has had on their future career plans, as well as their self-awareness and confidence. “I didn’t know there was a proper way to interview,” Julia said.

FBLA is among the top 10 organizations listed by the U.S. Department of Education, and it services over a quarter million students around the country. Participation in job-skills education equips individuals like Andres and Julia with confidence and preparedness they would not have gained from a traditional classroom.

We all answer the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” FBLA students, however, face a new and perhaps more important question: “Are you prepared for the job?”


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