Planning for college or university needs to start at home. It begins with a conversation – what would you like to do when you grow up? Most teenagers will have an answer that is either based in entertainment, fashion, sports or no answer at all. Why? Because that’s what they know. The majority of teenagers have little access to other occupational information. This is where parents can help.
- Exposure to as many occupations as possible will introduce new worlds and opportunities for your teen. For example, take your kid to school day or friends of the family who have different occupations. Encouraging volunteering, part-time jobs, leadership activities and extracurricular activities are important as well. Experiential learning may make the difference between a young adult who completes their post-secondary education and one who drops out to work at a minimum wage job.
- Post-secondary education planning conversations need to happen early and often. Start today. Begin a conversation with your teenager about their life and where they want to go. Listen carefully and allow them to dream. Start with a dream.
- Practicality is the flipside of dreaming, especially related to course selection at high school. Choosing applied versus academic courses means the difference between college and university. For some students this is an easy decision, but for students who are unsure about their career path, it is more difficult.
- The next question is which courses to take? Encourage your student to take courses which will leave as many options open as possible. Dropping math and science may limit the dream of becoming a doctor. Not everyone excels in these areas. We can’t all be rocket scientists; the world needs plumbers, electricians, musicians and dancers too!
- Taking courses outside of their comfort level or of interest is also a good idea. How can a person know what they like if they have never experienced or learned anything other than math, English and science?
Talk to your teen often. Allow them to dream. Encourage them to try different courses, extracurricular and volunteer opportunities. You’ll all feel better (and confident) about the future! Learn more about Educational Planning here.