TeenLife Blog

Supporting teen success, one post at a time

Author: Randi Mazzella

Randi Mazzella-profile-picture

Randi Mazzella is a freelance writer and mother of three from New Jersey. She is a Contributing Editor for Raising Teens Magazine and writes monthly for the blog Barista Kids.

Posted Oct. 22, 2019, 10 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
college fit is important

Choosing which colleges to attend is a big decision. Teens (and their parents) may think that the best approach is to focus their college search on the highest ranked institutions that they think they can get into based on their grades and resume. But this approach can be misguided. “Prestige is not a synonym for fit,” says Christine K. VanDeVelde, coauthor of the book College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step. “Parents and students need to get out of the mindset that prestige and selectivity are the most important criteria for choosing a college. Instead the focus should ...

Posted May 26, 2015, 8 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
Out of the Darkness – Walk to Prevent Suicide

Madison Holleran had always been a happy kid. In high school, she was a varsity athlete (track and soccer) and an A student. Madison was looking forward to attending a top tier college and running for their track team. Her father Jim Holleran recalls, “After her first week at school she tweeted about college, ‘This is the greatest place on earth.’” But the transition from high school to college was difficult for Madison. She missed home and her family. The academic and athletic demands were intense. Madison was used to being a high achiever in the classroom and on the ...

Posted May 25, 2015, 8 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
Does My Teen Need to Take SAT Subject Tests?

My daughter spent several months preparing to take her SATs. After two tries, she was happy with her scores and relieved to be done with the standardized testing portion of her college application. That is, until her guidance counselor recommended she take several SAT Subject Tests. What are the SAT Subject Tests and does your teen need to take them? SAT Subject Test Overview SAT Subject Tests (formerly known as SAT IIs) are hour-long subject tests that give students an opportunity show off their strengths in specific subject areas. There are 20 different SAT Subject tests offered in 5 categories: ...

Posted May 20, 2015, 8:19 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
Later Start Times for Middle and High School Students

Every weekday morning at 6:35 am, I go into my 17-year-old daughter’s room to make sure she has heard her alarm clock. I usually find her with the covers drawn over her head. I shake her lightly and she groggily says, “I’m up,” followed by, “I’m so tired.” I wish I could let her sleep later, but her bus arrives at 7:05 am for classes that begin at 7:40. Our situation is fairly common. Most parents of teenagers will agree that getting them up in time for school is a challenge. The reason is straightforward: teens go to bed too ...

Posted May 5, 2015, 8 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
What Parents & Teens Need to Know About the New SAT

As of March 2016, the SAT is going to have a brand new format and scoring system. How will these changes affect your high school teen? Here is what parents need to know: Old SAT vs. New SAT - What Are the Main Differences? The are many differences between the current SAT and the new one including: Less sections: two sections instead of three, with an Essay section that is optional. Scoring: There is now no penalty for guessing and students will get points for correct answers but not be penalized for wrong answers. Both sections will still be scored ...

Posted April 25, 2015, 8 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
Is it Okay for Your Teen to Quit Their Activities?

The old saying goes, “Quitters never win and winners never quit,” and parents may feel this is especially true for their teen. They may be upset if their teen decides they no longer want to play a sport or participate in an activity – especially if it is something they previously enjoyed and/or excelled at. Parents may also worry about how quitting makes a teen appear on their college applications. Should parents support their teen’s desire to quit a sport or other activity? Finding True Passion Freshman year is a good time for teens to experiment and try a wide ...

Posted April 21, 2015, 9 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
How to Support & Encourage Your Teen While Managing Their Expectations

My daughter played soccer in our recreational town league from the time she was five years old. When she entered high school she decided to try out for the freshman team. She loved playing that year and especially enjoyed the camaraderie of being part of a team in such a big school. In the off-season and during the summer she met with a trainer who worked really hard to improve her skills. The following year she tried out for the junior varsity team and was cut by the coach before the season started. She was crushed. As a parent, I ...

Posted April 17, 2015, 9 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
10 Tips for a Fun and Productive College Visit

In the past five years, my husband and I have taken our daughters on many college visits. We have found actually being on campus to be a valuable tool for our daughter’s in determining whether a college is right for them. But some visits have been more insightful than others. Since going to see schools is an investment in both time and money, how can parents plan trips that will be both fun and productive for their teen? 1. See the Right Colleges Meet with your teen’s guidance counselor before planning trips to determine which schools are most likely good ...

Posted April 13, 2015, 8 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
Separating Parent & Teen College Dreams

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter, a high school junior, to visit a college an hour away from our home. On paper, the school seemed like a good fit for her. But between the tour, the information session and the other students we met on campus, it became clear that the school would not be a good match for her. On the ride home my daughter and I got into a little argument. We had already seen several schools and she was frustrated because she had not fallen in love with any of them. I countered that she ...

Posted April 9, 2015, 8 a.m. by Randi Mazzella | View Comments
Who Got in Where: Dealing with the Acceptances and Rejections

After months of waiting, college admission decisions are finally here. Anxious students will be running to their mailboxes, hoping to receive “thick” envelopes – or just logging onto their computers to find out if they have been accepted or rejected from the colleges that they have applied to. How can teens and their parents deal with acceptances and rejections with grace? Don’t Compare Most top tier schools accepted less than 10% of their applicants last year. With such low admission rates, it is near certain that qualified candidates will not be offered admission to schools they seem perfect for. Even ...

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