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Dave & Dujanovic: Calming frayed nerves of anxious college-bound kids

Mike Lemcke, from Richmond, Va., sits in an empty Greensboro Coliseum after the NCAA college basketball games were cancelled at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

SALT LAKE CITY — Students are stressed out about heading off to college in the fall.  How are they going to pay for tuition and books and rent and everything else if they are furloughed from work or there are no summer jobs to be had because businesses are shut down amid the coronavirus?

BYU counselor and psychologist Tom Golightly joins Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to talk about the common anxiety being experienced now by high school graduates.


“It’s such an important developmental phase — so many firsts,” Golightly said. “It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to figure things out quickly. . . and being on your own you’re trying to figure out your physical and mental well-being.

“What is more difficult lately, with a worldwide pandemic, there’s an added degree of difficulty. . . We worry about what we don’t know that comes with emerging adulthood. But maybe it’s a little heightened this year,” Golightly said.

The unknown

“I think a lot of college kids are terrified about the finances,” Dave said. “Not only is school extremely expensive, but a lot of kids have these summer jobs or jobs during the school year and that is just a huge question mark.

“I don’t think anyone really knows what the finances look like coming up in the fall, and whether they’re going to be able to save up through the summer. What you do to help calm kids or reassure them when it comes to the anxiety they have with money?” Dave asked.

“That is just part of a subset of unknowns. We just don’t know,” Golightly said.

He said when managing anxiety, focus on things that can be controlled and let go of worries about the stuff that cannot be. 

The importance of planning

Golightly advised students who are planning to attend colleges in the fall to start the ball rolling now.

“Make plans,” he said. “How are you going to pay for things? What are you going to be able to do? What can you do right now? But you do need to register for classes . . You don’t want to be left scrambling at the last minute.”

For students travelling out of state to attend school, Golightly recommended checking the guidelines and prepare for the contingencies at your college.

“I have a nephew heading to Princeton in New Jersey,” he said. “He’s going to have to prepare a lot differently than my niece who’s planning on going to school in Logan for Utah State.

“Know what you’re going to have to plan for and focus on those things. And do your best to let go of the worry about the things we can’t control like the lack of summer jobs or lack of that internship or other things that might come up along the way,” Golightly said.

Gap year

“What if a kid comes to a parent and says ‘I’ve decided to take that gap year. I’m going to wait it out a year. The pandemic has got me rethinking college.’ What do we say then?” Debbie asked.

“That’s actually not a terrible option,” he said. “. . . One of the dangers of a gap year without a purpose or a plan, is it can lead to a real stagnant state and a failure to thrive. [There’s] a real danger of being comfortable and stuck in not doing anything or being stuck in an entry-level job. . .

“I would say if you’re going to take a gap year have a purpose for it,” Golightly said.

He suggested using the gap year for an internship or church mission that can foster growth into emerging adulthood and doesn’t keep the person stuck in late adolescence.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States