What To Do When Your Child Isn’t “College Material”

College is not always the best option for child. Learn how to explore other options.

I am in a Facebook group for my local school district. Parents and teachers post items ranging from promoting school events to asking various questions. While most posts get a good number of comments and likes, there was one that got the most I have ever seen – a total of 178 comments so far and still growing. Here is what the mom posted:

“My child has no academic desire. I realize school isn’t their “thing.” What are trades do your kids do? Where do they work? Are they happy?”

This mom is not alone as seen by the many comments written for the post. Her questions are ones that many parents have. Just because your child isn’t “made for college” does not mean they won’t have a happy, fulfilling career. They are good, well-mannered kids who have a different path.

There are kids who go to college because it’s what we expect, then realize maybe they didn’t pick the right path. This is why 30% of kids change their major in the first three years of college and why 40% go to  college for 6 years and don’t even earn a college degree.

I understand why many of us have the mentality that our kids must go to college. That was what was expected when I was growing up. The pathis you go college right after high school. However, times have changed:

  • For some kids going to college is right for them
  • There are also many trade jobs that need to be filled and pay good money
  • There are teenage entrepreneurs who already run a successful business

The point is there are many options. We all have our unique path. It’s no longer the mentality of you must go to college after high school. My son is talking about taking a gap year. This concept of a gap year was unheard of in my teenage years. If you search the internet, you will find many successful people who never graduated from college – Ellen DeGeneres, TedTurner, Mary Kay Ash, Jay Z, and yes, even Steve Jobs. Click herefor a list of 100 successful people without college degrees.

What I loved about the Facebook post is that the momrealized that they needed to create a plan: if not college then what? Benjamin Franklin said

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

This is very true when it comes to your child’s future. It’s our responsibility as parents to help our kids find their path. If we don’t help them plan, they will float through life trying to find their “passion.” Some may say that is just a part of life. But this could also mean that your child is still living at home at age 30 with college debt. I think many parents do not want this for their child or themselves.

Here are some steps to help your child plan:

  • Take a career assessment – This is a fast-pass way to help your child narrow their choices. There many free ones out there. Most importantly, make sure you use one that can accurately match your child to the careers that are the best fit for their natural traits, tendencies, and preferences – like the one I use. You can click here to see sample reports.
  • Write out action steps – once you narrow down the career choices, write action steps to move them towards a specific path. Steps may include talk to people in the career, find out the job outlook for that career, identify the education path for that careers, etc.

You can check out my other blogs about different options – Why Trade School is a Viable Option For Your Child and Tips for Avoiding the Costly Effects of Changing Majors.

As a parent, I know that sometimes our kids have a difficult time listening to us. That is one reason why many parents come to me for help. Kids will listen to advice better from someone else than their own parent. Even if it’s the exact same advice. Click here to schedule a strategy session with me. We can talk about your challenges in how to help your child plan their “ideal college.”

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