Nervous about sending her daughter to college, Kathy Walter, an executive and life development coach at Brain Basics, Frisco, decided to create a workshop, College Knowledge, with the aim of providing “life prep” for students heading off to college.
“As a parent, I wondered if I had properly prepared and educated my child on ‘life’,” says Kathy. “I know she is academically ready but what about life outside of our family ‘bubble’? Have I had conversations and given the right knowledge to my children to enable them to handle and plan appropriate actions when facing all aspects of life?
Specifically, Kathy is referring to scary realities like lockdowns when there is an active threat on campus or the fact that one out of five undergraduate college women have been sexually assaulted—and 90% go unreported.
To meet this need, Kathy created College Knowledge. “I partnered with Tara Wedemeyer a licensed professional counselor and we created a workshop to prepare children for that next big step,” says Kathy. “Clarity, knowledge and a plan are a big part of having a successful college experience. We are combining our efforts with a retired police detective that handled sex crimes and a self defense expert. We have seen first hand what they are dealing with and have created a program to address all those issues. College Knowledge will address stress management, self esteem, healthy dating, conflict resolution and so much more.”
College Knowledge is a program of Brain Basics.
Q & A with Kathy Walter, Brain Basics
What was the initial vision behind the program?
College Knowledge is a collaborative effort between myself and Tara Wedemeyer. Tara is a Licensed Professional Counselor whose practice consists of a large adolescent and young adult base. She has the reputation of being a teen whisperer. It is truly her experience and training that enable us to cover all aspects of the college experience.
Wanting to bring the best of the best into the workshop, we didn’t stop there. Seeing the statistics for sexual assault, along with the “Me Too” movement, prompted us to bring in another colleague, Dena Williams. Dena is a Licensed Professional Counselor and brings a unique police perspective, as a former sex crimes detective. Dena will be covering the topics of alcohol awareness, date rape, and stalking. We live in a world that is ever-changing. As a parent, you do your best to prepare your child for the next, big step–leaving home for college. You think you have covered all the bases but what about what you don’t know? The challenges, struggles, and stressors our young adults face seem to change as rapidly as our technology and have just as significant of an impact.
We want to equip young adults with vital tools and knowledge to navigate this new world. As parents, we strive to prepare our children for the real world and living independently, but college students can experience significantly different environments from their upbringing and the things they have considered so familiar. Knowledge is power and having confidence and insight around potential issues can significantly impact our children’s college career and experience.
The mission of College Knowledge is to enable our kids to make decisions and face challenges proactively, rather than reactively; to deal with things they may have not been exposed to previously.
What first gave you the idea?
I was on Facebook, reading posts about a college campus lockdown, due to a criminal threat. Friends were posting about their kids feeling scared, panicking, and not knowing what to do in such a situation. The parents felt helpless and didn’t know how to specifically instruct their kids in that unexpected situation. I realized, at that moment, I wanted my children armed with the knowledge and ability to handle these unique and unpredictable circumstances. We can say all day long, “It won’t happen to me.” but statistics and the world around us would say something different. What if that knowledge was the difference in not becoming a statistic or having the awareness and empowerment to move beyond being a statistic?
When do you launch?
Our launch is this Spring. I feel like the potential is unlimited! Children attend cotillion to learn social etiquette and interactions, manners, and how to dance. College Knowledge is so much more and bridges the gap in communication and education of topics that may or may not have been covered. We have had a very positive response from parents interested in signing their children up.
What does the College Knowledge workshop consist of?
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College Knowledge is a 4-session, 90-minute workshop for graduating female high school seniors, to assist them in their next big step in life. (Our second session will be geared toward males.) Our workshop mission is to ensure she begins the next chapter of her journey, armed and equipped with information and resources to assist in having a healthy and successful college experience.
Watching our children begin this next phase of life can be an exciting time but also a difficult one because we know the world can be cruel and throw us some curveballs. Knowing they have the knowledge to make informed, intelligent decisions and have been provided the basics and beyond to ensure their safety and growth into adulthood is mandatory for a greater peace of mind.
Some of the topics we cover and really dig into include: adjusting to separating from your family and living on your own, making healthy choices around food/sleep/time management/socializing, healthy communication and relationships, conflict resolution, campus lockdowns, and sexual assaults. Our society can be unpredictable, and we want to make certain our children can respond proactively, rather than reactively.
Why is DFW a good place to launch?
DFW is a great place to live and an even better place to raise children. We take pride in our education and empowering our children to successfully navigate their futures. Texas is a great state for many reasons, but one of them is seeing the future in our children’s hands and adequately educating and preparing them for the future.
What’s been the response?
The response has been very positive and encouraging. We currently offer a 4-day workshop, split up over several weeks but have had requests for a 1-day workshop covering it all. We are seriously considering this as an option.
Why is this something you are passionate about?
I have three children. My oldest son is a sophomore at Stanford, my daughter graduates from high school this spring, and my youngest son is a sophomore in high school. I want to know my children and their friends have the knowledge to handle the hard stuff and the unexpected. I have been talking to college students about things they wished they had known and one student said it best, “I knew or had been warned about specific circumstances but had never had a discussion on how specifically to handle it.” The more research I do and statistics I read, I know College Knowledge is necessary to raise strong, emotionally healthy youth, who can be successful in navigating life. Our hope is that the information and tools learned will decrease the statistics, and allow our young adults to plan, prepare, and proceed when faced with difficult or complex situations.
What’s your background? What were you doing before this?
I worked in Corporate America before I was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years. When my kids no longer needed constant assistance, I went back to school and was certified as an Executive and Life Development Coach. I started Brain Basics with my business partner, Tara Wedemeyer. We recognize our fast paced world can limit our brain from operating optimally without awareness. Our world is ever-changing, technology has enabled us to be busy or engaged 24/7, and we push ourselves to do it all. Unfortunately, that need or want to do it all, and as quickly as possible, depletes our ability to be present and aware. We default to our standard operating mode (auto pilot). It is like when we drive from one place to another and we cannot remember the journey there. Your skills and formed habits allow you to make the drive but your brain was not actively thinking about it. You forfeit happiness and a greater perspective when you are not actively thinking, not to mention slower response times, in this particular example. Our brains were not designed to be optimal in this kind of environment. Brain Basics is all about getting us back to the basics and an overall wellbeing by utilizing healthy coping mechanisms, changes, and practices, all of which contribute to a healthier brain and a healthier you.
Brain Basics, Frisco
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