If you have a teenager who is going to college, you are probably spending a great deal of money on his or her education. Surely you want to see your child succeed, but you may have concerns about their ability to do so in the particular career field they have chosen. Perhaps your teen hasn’t selected a major yet. What can you do to get your teen on the right track? Here are five steps to help you assist your child in making a successful career plan.
- Identify Areas of Interest: If your teen has not yet selected a college major, ask about the kinds of careers he or she has thought about and what is appealing about those professions. If your teen has already selected a major, ask what he or she might like to do with a degree in that field and if there are any other career ideas that have come to mind. This step is designed to get them thinking about their future, rather than just selecting a career because they feel pressured to do so.
- Stimulate the Thought Process: When your teen talks about possible careers or courses of study, inquire as to the thought behind that idea. Ask thought provoking questions such as, “What kind of job do you see yourself doing with a degree in economics?” “With a degree in business, do you see yourself running your own business or working for someone else?” “Where do you see yourself working with a degree in psychology?” “What appeals to you about a degree in liberal studies?” This step is designed to get teens to think about what they might do with the degree they are thinking about getting.
- Encourage Discovery: Once your teen is thinking about a particular degree, encourage him or her to discover what usefulness that degree will have. It can be as simple as typing a question into a search engine such as, “What can I do with a sociology degree?” Additionally, many college and university websites have a list of degrees and/or majors along with corresponding careers. At this stage you’ll want to be promoting the exploration of various majors and careers so that your teen has a good idea of what opportunities might be available to him or her.
- Incorporate a Financial Component: As your teen begins to identify a few potential majors and corresponding careers, inquire as to how much money he or she will be able to make in that career field. This information can be found by searching salary websites or asking a search engine question such as, “How much money do nurses make?”, or simply typing in “Average salary for accountants.” You may also want to work with your teen to help him or her get an idea of what kind of salary is needed to live a particular kind of lifestyle.
- Develop a Plan: Now that your teen has narrowed down the available career choices to those that are most appealing, assist him or her in choosing the best option and making a plan for obtaining the requisite education and finding employment in the chosen field. This will necessarily involve selecting a college or university that offers the desired degree program and determining the requirements for attending that educational institution.
In my experience, many teens don’t have any real idea of what they want to do in life because they have not spent any time looking into what might be available to them. The discovery process should be expedition rather than an event. After all, you will likely be spending a significant amount of money on your teen’s education and your teen will be spending the next 30 to 50 years working in the field he or she chooses. This is where you can be involved in helping your teen make the right choice. Discovery is the key.
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