When your student begins approaching their high school years, the topics of career, college and major begin to come up. We talk to parents regularly that worry about these three things in particular and classify these as their top college concerns.
How can I help my students identify their strengths for a future career?
Where do we even start with college choice search?
How can we help them zero in on the right major?
We’re glad you asked!
While you may think that college or even major is the natural place to start talking, we recommend a different approach. Creating and executing a successful plan with your student for the future starts by establishing the goal or end result that you want to experience. This step is key. You can’t follow a map if you don’t know where you ultimately want to end up. Before creating a plan or map for success, you have to know your ultimate destination.
Some questions that you can ask your student as a conversation starter are:
Have you started thinking about a career path you might be interested in?
What do you feel like you’re good at?
Have you thought about where your strengths are?
What are you passionate about?
Once you can begin thinking towards a more long term goal, you can begin to help your student make a plan to get you there. This includes fanning the flame of their passions and interests but also helping them find their unique abilities and brilliance.
This also means helping them to eliminate areas where they are weak. While they may love a certain activity, it’s important to help them find if that is a strength enough of theirs to pursue it as a career.
There’s also a chance that there are things that they could soar in that they just haven’t considered or explored. Helping them find their areas of strength and eliminating areas of weakness early will help their strengths and unique brilliance inform their college and major decisions, not the other way around.
College and Major
While we have tons and tons of blog posts around college choice, admissions, visits, follow-ups and more on our resources page, we’ll boil down the most important things to focus on here as a parent as you help your student through this decision.
There are 3 main areas of a college decision that we think parents play an integral role in helping to encourage and support their students in making the right decision for their situation.
Campus, Culture, and Feel
Visiting is so crucial and something you definitely want to do with your student a few different times, including things like teasers and tasters, more formal initial visits, and then strategic visits, like Honors & Merit weekends. When visiting prompt your student with questions like:
How did you feel walking around the campus?
Did you enjoy it?
How were the dorms?
Could you see yourself going to class, activities, meals and other things on the campus?
Do you feel safe?
Do you like the location?
Academic and Career Programs
Helping your student determine the right college fit is more than just a feeling or liking the campus. It boils down to if the school can help take them to where they want to be. As you’ve been helping them and encouraging them to find who they really are, what they are interested in, passionate about, and what they may want to do, certain program offerings and majors will become more appealing over time. As those things come up, that begins to become a deciding factor in what school they should choose.
This one seems the most simple and straightforward yet it is the area most often discounted or overlooked. Be honest with your students about your financial abilities and commitment and help them make the best financial decision for now and their future.
Guiding your students through these decisions is such a crucial and exciting time. For more help opening up a dialogue about their future, check out our free Winning the College Game series or some of our other blog posts here.