Monthly Archives: January 2016

Feeling those College Blues?

Get back on track with Semester Off!

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Dr. Ilan Goldberg of Semester Off

Last year, ILD began a partnership with Dr. Ilan Goldberg of Semester Off, a comprehensive program designed specifically for struggling college students.  Semester Off aims to empower students to return to college, if they so choose, or to define another, alternative path that is more in line with their talents, future goals, and objectives.

Given the vast overlap between the goals of Semester Off and ILD, a number of our staff members have begun teaching a weekly course, How to Succeed in College, at Semester Off.

Sitting down with Dr. Goldberg, we learned a bit more about why he started this innovative program and the void in post-secondary education which this organization fills.

What inspired you to start Semester Off?

IG: The idea for Semester Off emerged organically from sessions with struggling college-aged students in my private practice. It became clear that these students lacked the resources to navigate through this challenging time and that time away from school was filled with loneliness and stagnation. I believed that the creation of an academically rigorous and comprehensive group experience would teach the skills needed to succeed, while reducing the feelings of shame and isolation many of these students experience. I also wanted to destigmatize the experience of taking time away from college and bring fun and joy into these students’ lives during an otherwise dark period. Our goal at Semester Off became to help students taking a break from college to get back on track and regain self-confidence. 

What distinguishes Semester Off from a “semester on?”

IG: Semester Off students are taking a critical look at why college didn’t work out and learning the skills they need for the next phase of their lives. While we do have lectures, they are interactive ones. But Semester Off offers incredible depth beyond the classroom experience. Students integrate wisdom from Eastern philosophies by participating in meditation and yoga sessions in addition to cardiovascular exercise. They take part in group team-building, group study sessions, and trust-building exercises in order to understand themselves more deeply and bond with their fellow students. They receive individualized career counseling and perform community service. It is our alternative approach to education that makes room for a partnership with ILD as well! Your talented and experienced educators who teach How to Succeed in College present critical executive functioning skills that are reinforced and practiced in countless ways throughout the rest of the Semester Off curriculum. 

What are students saying about Semester Off?

IG: Our students and their parents have been our most vociferous supporters since we began. A former student recently shared what his Semester Off experience meant to him, simply and elegantly:

“Semester Off resembles the training ground for life, and by the end of the program, students should feel capable of making their own decisions and acting upon them.”

Stay tuned for Part II of this blog post, written by an ILD teacher of the How to Succeed in College course!

Ed Therapy at ILD

Why it’s worth it…

Every once in a while we receive a reminder about why we do what we do. Recently we received one such reminder in the form of an email from a thankful parent. What a nice way to celebrate the new year! It seemed an important one to share with our readership, especially that’s partially to whom it is addressed:

To the Staff at ILD – and all potential parent clients:

I am a parent who used the services at ILD in Lexington. 

We have seen more tutors, therapists, educational consultants and neuropsychologists than a family should have in a lifetime – and it was when and ONLY when we went to ILD in Lexington that my son began to make some progress. Not only did he make progress at a very difficult time for anyone (college application pressures, essays, nightmares and college deadlines) – he enjoyed going there and felt totally supported by his tutor, Donna Kincaid.

Never have I seen someone as effective, as patient, as professional, AND as warm and intuitive as she.  The entire organization is run so professionally – yet has the delicacy and warmth of walking into someone’s home. 

ALL the staff were engaged in my son’s progress – and it was obvious that a lot of communication and collaboration occurs behind the scenes between staff to find ways to support your child.  When I came in, it seemed that the entire staff I engaged with were aware and supportive of my son’s progress AND strengths. 

It’s pretty hard when a student is very resistant to help, to find the place of engagement and recognition of that student’s strengths. Staff are only human after all.  I always left feeling so hopeful and so supported. I was incredibly thankful every single time we left – AND even the few times my son just couldn’t make it in.  They were hopeful and had the kind of optimism we all need as parents.

I recommend this organization stronger than I have ever recommended anyone who has helped my son; when a parent finds this treasure, you can’t help but want to spread the word.   Your kids, not even knowing who they are, I’m convinced, would be met with an engaging, professional staff – and most importantly the warm support they thrive on.

Robin, Parent in Lexington MA.

To all of our parents (and potential parents): emails such as this remind us that our work is so critical, not only for the students who benefit from increased self-confidence and strategy use, but also for the families who have suffered alongside them. We are happy to have the opportunity to  make an impact on your lives. You and your children have certainly made a difference in ours!