You want your student to get into a good college, have a fantastic college experience and find a rewarding career – all on an affordable budget!
But where do you start sorting through the overwhelming steps of the college preparation and application process?
After all, with 3,500 colleges nationwide, and tuition costs alone ranging from $23,410 a year upwards of $46,272 and up, there’s a lot at stake!
In my 20 years of work as a Certified Educational Planner, I’ve found that the top four fears that most concern parents are:
- If my student doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, how can he pick a major that will lead to a solid career?
- Will my daughter find a job in her field after graduation?
- Can I afford to send him to the school of his dreams?
- Will my daughter incur so much debt that she will end up living at home again?
This blog post series is designed to examine each of these concerns and give parents some solid strategies to lead to their student’s success. Today’s blog post will deal with the first question:
1. If my student doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, how can he pick a major that will lead to a solid career?
Have no fear! Think back to when you were 17. Did you know exactly what you wanted to do and did your life unfold as you expected it to?
One of the best ways to help your student identify his interests is to encourage him to think about what he is good at and what he likes to do.
Is he a hands-on learner? Does he prefer to work alone or in groups? Does he prefer to learn by doing or from practical experience? Is he more of a theory or application person?
Simply asking him these questions won’t get to the answers you seek because teenagers, although self-involved, are not usually self-aware. What does that mean? It means that they don’t tend to think deeply about the big questions like:
- Who am I?
- What makes me happy?
- How do I learn?
The best way to answer these questions is not by direct questioning, but through careful observation on your part. As you watch your son take apart the engine of the car, for example, comment on the fact that he really seems to enjoy working with his hands.
Ask if he thinks this has something to do with his desire to know how things work or more that he likes to solve the puzzles of how they are put together. When he tells you that he does not enjoy chemistry class but loved biology, ask why he thinks this might be. Is it because biology is a more visible science and chemistry more theoretical?
Does he have a facility for foreign language but has no idea what he can do with it? Point out the opportunities in our global economy for those who are multi-lingual.
Career Assessments are Useless without Feedback
One of the ways I do help my students to identify their passions is to administer the Strong Interest Inventory and, often, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Many high schools also administer a version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but they frequently don’t review the results with the student.
Career assessments without the crucial element of follow up is a waste of time for the student and money for the school district. One student I worked with resisted taking the assessment because of his negative experience taking the MBTI on the Naviance College & Career Readiness Platform at his school.
None of the career options presented to him had rung true, or were things that he saw as leading to a successful life. No one explained to him about personality preferences (for example, one is not an ESTJ but one shows a preference for that personality style in personal interactions). As a certified career coach, I’m qualified to have these discussions with your student over the many months we typically work together. This offers him a chance to ask questions as they develop and as he grows and matures.
Watch for our next blog post on “Will my daughter find a job in her field after graduation?”