Sophie Beren on Strategies for Difficult Conversations with Your Gen Z Child

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Welcome to College Admissions in the Era of COVID-19 Virtual Summit! On today’s episode, we give you a glimpse into Dr. Legatt’s conversation with Sophie Beren.



VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. I am Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and elite admissions expert at Ivy Insight and author of “Get Real and Get In”. You’re going to be hearing today from our summit speaker, and I’m so excited to share just a glimpse of the summit with you. I wanted to give you a sense of what you missed if you had to miss it and invite you to get a VIP All-Access Pass to the summit. This access pass will allow you to get full, unlimited and lifetime access to all those session recordings. This is just a clip. You’ll also have the ability to attend live Q & A session with me where I will answer your questions about college admissions right on the spot. And you’re going to also gain access to my personal Ultimate College Application Template bundle with bonus materials and that has a value of $3.97. So click on the show notes. Go ahead, reserve your VIP ticket so that you can gain access to the full summit experience and all its perks. See you soon. 

Welcome back, everyone, to our College Admissions in the Era of COVID-19 Virtual Summit! My name is Dr Aviva Legatt. I’m the founder and elite admissions expert at Ivy Insight and author of “Get Real and Get In”. So Sophie Beren is the founder and CEO at the Conversationalist. Conversationalist is dedicated to breaking Gen Z-ers outside of their echo chambers and unifying the world one voice at a time. So today we’re going to be talking with Sophie about strategies for difficult conversations with your Gen Z child. And Sophie is, no exaggeration, she is the Queen of Conversation. She can talk with anybody and break the ice, and she’s just going to be amazing to learn from today. Sophie, welcome! Glad to be here with you. 

SB: Hello. Thank you so much for having me. Congratulations on the summit happening today. I feel so lucky to be here and to know you. 

AL: Oh, great. Thank you, Sophie. Same here. I’m so happy to host you today. So tell us a little bit about the Conversationalist. What kind discussions are the Gen Z folks having these days? 

SB: I would love to share a bit more. I think what the Conversationalist is so deeply tied to my identity. So I’ll preface by saying that I am a unifier. I feel like I was put on this Earth to bring people together across differences to have conversations. And so our mission at the Conversationalist is to unify the world, and we do this through our community. We are on the Geneva App 24/7, which is an audio video and chat based communication education platform where we have young people from around the world talking all day long about everything and anything under the sun that matters to them. We have different rooms, almost like a Slack channel for each individual topic that matters most to Gen Z. I would say the most engaged conversations typically happen surrounding first and foremost things that affect Generation Z. This can be thought of as current events, anything related to mental health, peer pressure, anxiety, self worth, and really anything surrounding I would say social justice. There’s a really interesting statistic that shares that 78% of genders seek out daily conversations surrounding diverse social issues, and 66% of that 78 is interested in connecting with someone who thinks differently than they do under a shared social cause. So we’re so grateful that we’ve become the hub for that where we’re having genders talk about anything and everything from current events to politics to racism to mental health, to pop culture and more. 

AL: Sophie, I’m curious if there’s been a shift in the number of people on the platform or how people are engaging on the platform with COVID. 

SB: We originated as a multimedia content platform. About a year and a half ago, when we were born, we were thought of as more of a BuzzFeed or a Teen Vogue platform with articles, podcasts, YouTube videos about difficult topics with less emphasis on a community itself. And through the pandemic is how we pivoted. We saw a need for community. So when COVID hit a year ago, we really saw that young people needed a place to go. They needed something beyond their Zoom rooms, provided through school and extracurriculars to relate to other young people going through what was happening. 

AL: That community piece is just so needed right now. exactly what they needed at a critical time. What would you say are topics that if you ask a question about it, you could have a thread going for an indeterminable length about it? 

SB: I would say our most engaged topics typically happen around really intense political issues. I would say once every two weeks we have a really in depth dialogue about abortion. This is a topic that comes up time and time again about the pro- life, pro-choice debate. And those threads can go on for 300 to 500 replies within a given even prompt. There are a lot of conversations happening surrounding gun violence prevention and Second Amendment rights, and that’s a really interesting conversation as well, because I think there’s a common ground to be found. We all want to create a safer world. We might have different pathways to get there. 

AL: Are the students on there talking about their parents at all? And if so, what are some of the kinds of things that are being discussed? 


SB: I would say there isn’t a lot of conversation surrounding people’s parents. It’s really by Gen Z for Gen Z, and I would say if there were ever conversation surrounding their parents, it comes up in some sort of an advice way, like, “Hey, I’m really struggling with my mental health, and I’m ready to reach out for help. What do I say to a family member or how can I approach a conversation about X, Y, and Z with my parents? Because I’m really struggling, they don’t understand me”. And there’s a coalition of peers ready to hop in and provide that advice. I have learned a lot. I think about how Gen Z-ers relate to their parents and how to navigate the more difficult conversations both ways. 


AL: I’m curious about some of those strategies that you’ve seen both us, and if you’ve seen anything about what’s working well, what may be more or less helpful between the two or among those relationships. 


SB: So I actually took the liberty of asking our community directly because I wanted to make sure that whatever I shared today came right from our Gen Z-ers’ mouths. So I popped into the community this morning and I asked, “What are some concerns that you have in navigating your relationships and conversations with your parents”? And I’ll share some of these findings now. So one person said that “one of their biggest concerns is that parents sometimes undermine the things that younger generations go through, especially when it comes to mental health” and having some sort of disconnect on both ends between the different generations”. Typically, Gen Zers and Gen Xers and I think that’s something to point out. I think it was reported a couple of years ago that Generation Z is the generation that is most likely to be vocal about their mental health struggles. They know what they’re going through and they want to speak up about it. And I think the stumbling block when it comes to the parent child relationship is not always knowing how to address those mental health struggles. “Anxiety” and “depression” have become such buzz words as of late, where every single person under the sun seems to have anxiety or have depression. And I think it’s important to really uncover what your individual child is going through and what that means to them outside of any sort of misconception about what you may think of or know of when it comes to mental health.


VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.