Tran­si­tioning from high school to col­lege can be a daunting chal­lenge for teenagers, given the pres­sures and anx­iety from a new social envi­ron­ment, a more rig­orous aca­d­emic work­load and increased freedom and inde­pen­dence. To smooth this tran­si­tion, four North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dents have devel­oped a well­ness edu­ca­tion model to pre­pare high school seniors men­tally and phys­i­cally for the lifestyle changes ahead.

For their senior cap­stone project this past spring, health sci­ences majors Katherine Brock, Rose Paine, Kaitlin Ostrander and Lily Shipley cre­ated the col­lege readi­ness model to inte­grate into the cur­riculum of the after-​​school youth enrich­ment pro­gram located at the Badger & Rosen Squash­Busters Center, on Northeastern’s campus.

We wanted to bridge that gap after high school, and make sure that once they got to col­lege, that they’d be suc­cessful,” Ostrander said.

Rec­og­nizing that incoming col­lege freshmen are often prone to stress and resulting high-​​risk behav­iors such as unhealthy eating, the North­eastern stu­dents said a major com­po­nent of the well­ness pro­gram involves offering prac­tical advice on how to deal with those and many other issues.

The four stu­dents led inter­ac­tive work­shops on topics such as social inte­gra­tion, nutri­tion, time man­age­ment and the dan­gers of drugs and alcohol use. In these ses­sions, high school stu­dents were taught how to handle room­mate con­flicts, pro­vided simple ways to con­trol por­tion size at meals and shown what a col­lege course syl­labus looks like.

The com­pre­hen­sive module they cre­ated for Squash­Busters includes case studies on common sce­narios new room­mates face, videos, demon­stra­tions and a healthy eating guide.

They said the goal is to ulti­mately help these teenagers make healthy lifestyle choices once they enter col­lege, as they become more mature, inde­pen­dent and self-​​motivating.

I enjoyed working with this age group. I think youths are really inspiring,” Shipley said. “We’re teaching them how to stay healthy so they can pass it on to younger students.”

Jen­nifer Lillis, an aca­d­emic and com­mu­nity ser­vice coor­di­nator at Squash­Busters, said it made a big dif­fer­ence for the Squash­Busters teenagers to receive this advice from the North­eastern stu­dents because they were in the teenagers’ same posi­tion only a few years ago.

The Squash­Busters pro­gram began in 1996 and moved to Northeastern’s campus in 2003. Through the pro­gram, urban youths learn how to play squash, while gaining hands-​​on aca­d­emic help and com­mu­ni­ties ser­vice opportunities.