In January, I interviewed Alyse Levine, one of the foremost college counseling experts in the country, about de-stressing the college application process. It was so well-received, that we’ve partnered to create A Parent’s Guide to the College Application Process. She’ll be answering top questions on our podcast, and right here on our site. And wow is she a big help!

We’re kicking off with a helpful discussion on Spawned about how we can best help identify and develop our children’s interests.

This is an especially valuable topic for those of us with tweens and teens who may still be trying to figure out what they care about. Not all of us have children who are “specialists” in one thing — like a competitive ice skater or a teen who’s started a non-profit. (There’s only one student council president in every school, right?)

And yet…there’s that dreaded “extracurricular” section in the common app where schools rank our kids’ activities. Yikes!

As a former admissions director of Wash U in St Louis and counselor at a top NYC private school, Alyse explains that identifying a student’s authentic passions is not about padding the college app. It helps support mental health, socialization, and overall well-being. It also is a way to help address the online activities keeping lots of kids from having more connective IRL experiences.

She offers a series of specific questions that parents can ask to help guide our children, and she reminds us that all interests — even video games! — can be nurtured in positive ways. Take a listen!

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If you want to chat about today’s episode, pop into the Spawned Community on Facebook. Or hey, ask Alyse a question right in the comments on this post.

Be sure to subscribe to Spawned wherever you get your podcasts and thank you for listening!