December 5, 2022—Class VII students welcomed alumna and Winsor parent Dr. Marion Russell, ’91, P ’22, ’25 to their health classes this fall for a discussion about wellness leading into the college application and transition experience. Dr. Russell, who has focused her career around women’s college health, completed her residency in psychiatry and has a private practice in Wellesley, and she offered an assuring presence to the junior class.
To begin the period, the students worked individually to choose cards containing thoughtful first-person statements to encourage positive thinking and confidence. Following this, Dr. Russell asked the students to reflect on words that came to mind when thinking about the journey to college, writing each word on the whiteboard to form a word cloud. Looking upon the board, one student reflected, “all four years of high school are leading up to this moment” — the transition into college.
Building on the first activity, Dr. Russell challenged the class to reflect on students’ aspirations and the positive expectations for a college experience, again writing the words on the board. The students observed the differences between the two groups of words. “All these things have nothing to do with academics,” noted one participant. “The focus is more on independence and growing older.” The words also “skipped over the college application process, to focus on what you’re going to get after,” shared another student.
A discussion followed about how the students could manage expectations for themselves and others in their lives to approach the transition process with clarity and calm. One student recalled, “it is sometimes easy for parents to compare [your sibling’s process] to yours,” and encouraged other classmates to speak up about having their own individual processes separate from the journeys of an older sibling or parent.
The class discussed strategies to combat the pressure of college application season, such as setting up a regular meeting time for students to check in with their parents, or working as a class to set some ground rules and guiding principles for discussing challenging topics.
As the class concluded, Dr. Russell reminded the group not to lose sight of the insights from the exercise. After all, while not strictly academic, the positive experiences of college and community are “partly what you have been working for.”