School starts soon – got problem solving skills?

School starts shortly.  I’m sure you have your shopping lists ready: pencils, pens, cell phone chargers, extra long twin sheets (yep, I’m talking to you, college students living in a dorm!).  It is all well and good to have your supplies ready.  Do you have your problem solving skills sharpened and ready?

This is the time of year when students are headed off to school, fully of shiny, happy expectations about this year.  (It will be the best year ever, right?!)  Expectations about grades, friends, hoped-for experiences remain intact. Perhaps there is some anxiety threaded through there, but you have the supplies, so you are good, right?

The thing you will probably need the most is problem solving skills! How quickly can you recognize that there is a problem that needs solving?  Can you generate a list of possible solutions?  Can you assess those solutions?  If you get stuck, who can you contact (and how and when)? Can you keep your anxiety in check as you attempt to solve the problem?

Here is a quick list of problem solving questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is the problem?
  • Have you faced this exact same problem before? How about a similar problem?
    • How did you handle this before?
  • Can you manage your anxiety and think for a moment? Breathe, breathe deeply. Your situation likely isn’t life and death.
  • What are some possible solutions?
  • Can you reasonably try any of those solutions?
  • Do you need a problem solving partner? If so, who?
    • When is the right time to contact this person? Can it wait??
    • Can you guess what that person might say?? Can you put that plan in place by yourself?

The reality is, adulting is an interdependent approach to life, not entirely independent.  You can still ask for help, but WHO you ask will probably change.

I can’t solve all my life problems, but I know who I can ask for advice. I used to just ask my parents for advice, but now that I’m old and grey, I ask my friends for advice, not my parents.  Same for you – you might ask your parents for help now, but over time you will ask your friends for advice – where to get a burrito, what the cool new shoes are this season, what to watch on Netflix.

If you can engage in problem solving, you can find success in school.  Honestly, if you have solid problem solving skills, you can pretty much do anything you want!