My Ideal College shares how to help your teen through the college process

Are you guiding your teen in the right direction?

I recently had a worried mom, Ruth, reach out to me. She said “Our daughter Hasana is a junior at UGA. She says she hates her classes and wants to drop out. We want her to get her degree, but we are at a loss on how to help her. We have already invested thousands of dollars into her college education.”

As a parent, I felt my stomach turn. No parent wants to hear this from their kid. All the hours and MONEY! spent finding and applying to colleges. You thought you set your teen up for success.

I spoke with Hasana. She. shared with me that her parents wanted her to get a degree in computer science. Her dad is a network engineer. There are many jobs in that field, and the salary is good. So, Hasana decided to pursue that career. However, after she started college and began taking classes, she realized she really didn’t like working with computers that much. Quite frankly, she was miserable and feeling very lost. Hasana also felt like she was letting her parents down.

As parents, we have the best of intentions with our teens. It’s our responsibility to help guide and teach them to become responsible adults who can live on their own and work in a career that they thrive in. However, our good intentions and guidance may be doing more harm than good.

How can you avoid the struggle and overwhelming stress Hasana and her parents are experiencing? Here are some tips:

  • Say to your teen, “Be honest with me. Do you feel like I am pushing you in a direction that you don’t feel is right for you?”
  • Make sure to pause after you ask this question. Give them time to process. If they say yes, then…
    • Talk with them about why, specifically, they don’t like the career path.
    • Ask what careers are they interested in and why? Keep an open mind, and don’t dismiss a career because you perceive it to not be fruitful.
    • Work with your kid to research the job outlook and salary of those careers. Get a clear idea of what the future and path is for those careers.
    • Find professionals in that field for your teen to have an informational interview with to learn more about the career. Many professions have organizations that you can contact for referrals.

Hasana’s mom shared that working with me really opened her eyes. She had no idea how much she and her husband were pushing their daughter in a path she really didn’t want. Getting a degree was something that was very important for Hasana’s mom and dad. Now, they are open to other options and degrees. Their relationship with their daughter is better too, now that they have more open conversations about the path she wants to take.

Could you use more guidance on how to get your teen on the right path? Email me at laurie@myidealcollege.org to set up a complimentary strategy session.

Teens need to connect with others in careers they are interested in pursuing.

A Simple Way to Help Your Teen’s Future

I was chatting with a mom whose teen attended my College and Career Action Planning workshop. We were discussing the careers her teen chose, which were Architect and Graphic Designer. Both of these careers matched her interests. Plus, the job outlook and salaries were in line with what she wanted.

The mom wanted to know how she can help guide her daughter in pursuing each of these careers. I shared how I encourage teens to talk to professionals in those job fields. But there is one BIG obstacle in doing this. Your child’s network circle is limited to their friends and peer groups. The chances of them knowing someone in a career they are interested in is minimal.

This is where you come in. Parents are WAY more connected than their teens. Here are three easy actions you can do today to help your child.

1. Go through your contacts.

Check your email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook friends, and LinkedIn connections. See who might work in your teen’s chosen career OR may know someone who does. Tell them your teen is considering a specific career and ask if they can talk to them. I haven’t found anyone yet who isn’t willing to help a teen with their future.

2. Find professional organizations.

Just about every career has a professional organization. For example, in Human Resources, there is the Society for Human Resource Management. There’s one for Emergency Medical Technicians, Lawyers, Welders, Educators, Salespeople, and so on. Have your teen Google “Professional Organizations for…” and insert their chosen field. Your teen can reach out to that organization and ask to speak with someone about that particular career. Some of these organizations may also have scholarships for teens pursuing that career path.

3. Contact me.

I am happy to connect your teen if I know someone in their chosen career. I have connected teens to lawyers, accountants, talent scouts, athletic trainers, etc. One of my favorite finds was for a teen who was interested in being a voiceover actor. It turns out that I know a few. With that connection, the teen learned there was a voiceover actor conference coming to our town. AND they had a special portion of the conference planned for young adults considering that career.

I never charge a fee to connect your teen with business professionals. I get pure joy in being able to help them make a connection that can change their life. If you’d like me to help your child, email me at laurie@myidealcollege.org.

Making connections are important for not only learning about a career, but they can also lead to internships and jobs. Once your teen finds someone to chat with, the next obstacle is, “What do I ask when I meet with them?” I can help you out here. Click here to get my Informational Interview Questions. I have several questions that they can pick and choose from to ask.

Are you interested in being someone a teen can contact to find out more about your career? Let us know in the comments below, and we will reach out to you.

Teens have to determine their future to have a competitive edge in the workforce.

Why Teens Must Determine Their Future

Teens have to determine their future to have a competitive edge in the workforce.

In one of my recent posts, I shared how we help teens identify careers that they will love. This will help them find the right college for them.

Someone commented, “I think we need to stop pressuring kids to pick a path at 18. Take general courses, then find your passion. I was 40 before I finished my degree and determined what I wanted to do.”

I agree we don’t need to pressure our teens. However, the reality is times are very different than when we went to school. 

A friend of mine has a niece, Jill, who was adamant that she wanted to go to school to be a cosmetologist. Jill wouldn’t entertain the idea of anything else. After graduation from cosmetology school, Jill discovered she hated being a hairstylist and the makeup artist jobs were few and far between. Now Jill THINKS she wants to be a teacher.

Her parents have already paid thousands of dollars for an education Jill wants nothing to do with. How can they be confident that being a teacher is right for Jill?

I hear this same story from other parents. They have kids who started down a path that wasn’t right for them and it ended up causing a financial burden. I was one of those kids who didn’t start on the right path. Fortunately, it didn’t create a significant financial burden for my parents as it was more years ago than I want to admit. That is not the case now, as we have seen an all-time high of student loan debt.

The other reality is that the job market is very competitive and people in their 20’s are having a harder time launching their careers than in the past. This means more kids are moving back home after college graduation. A recent study shows that 50% of students move back home after college graduation. Many of these kids plan on living at home for at least two years. You can read more about the study here.

So, while we don’t want to pressure our teens to decide on a career, we have to help them. We can provide them with experiences to help guide them. Kids can only make decisions based on what they see, hear, or do.

If you are not helping your child find their future path in their high school years, you are opening yourself up to costly debt and a child in their 20’s who is living at home and feels lost about their future.

Don’t know where to start? Check out my article, Four Questions to Ask Your Teen About Their Future.

Four questions parents can ask their teen to help determine their future

Four Questions to Ask Your Teen About Their Future

My Ideal College shares how you can help your teen identify their future.

Your teen’s high school days seem to be flying by and like me, you are wondering when they will decide their plans after high school. What will they major in?

It can be hard to choose a major if your teen has no idea what career they seem themselves in down the road. Yet, to make a smart choice for the college they need to attend choosing a career path is an important step. A recent study found that 2/3 of college grads struggle to launch their career once they graduate. The third that didn’t struggle knew their major when they applied.

Here are 4 great questions to help your teen start thinking about their future:

  1. What are they interested in? What they are interested in is important in this question. Your teen shouldn’t rely on what others are interested in for them. Right now, they need to focus on truly interests them  – in school, life, your extra-curricular activities.
  2. What talent, skill, or knowledge makes them stand out from others? Do they tutor their friends in math because it comes naturally to them? Have they won awards in high school that could point them toward a possible career?
  3. What are their dreams and aspirations? What is their dream job? What aspirations do they have? What kind of life do they want to be living? When do they want to own a house? Where do they want to live? Do they want to travel?
  4. Where do they see themselves in ten years? Yeah, it’s a common question in an interview for a job but, it should really get them thinking. Owning their own business, running for political office, working in a laboratory helping to develop a cure for cancer?

I wouldn’t advise sitting your teen down and sound like a detective interrogating a suspect with these questions. This will just lead to anxiety, arguing, and pressure for you and your teen.  

Here are some options:

  • Have your teen put these questions in a journal. They can look at the questions daily or weekly and add their answers as ideas come to mind.
  • Put the questions on blank pieces of paper and post in their room. They can draw or write words and phrases to answer the questions.
  • Set aside a weekly or monthly lunch or coffee time with your teen to talk about these questions. Take them to their favorite place, where they will feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Sometimes our teens feel more comfortable talking about their future with other people besides their parents. Many times, our teens will try to say what they think we want them to hear. You might want to find a relative or family friend to have these conversations to help guide your teen.

If you do not have people you can reach out to, schedule a call with me. I would be happy to talk to your teen. Click here to send me an email and I will reach out to you. You can also get additional ideas by checking out my free resource, How Your Child’s Interests Can Lead To Their Ideal College. You can click here to access it.

Laurie Genevish of My Ideal College interviews Kyle Grappone about his book To The Next Step

How to Get Your Child To The Next Step

Laurie Genevish of My Ideal College interviews Kyle Grappone about his book To The Next Step

Kyle, like many students, changed majors in college. He started off in Political Science but realized there wasn’t much of a career path for him. He changed his major to Education, but this was more time consuming than he preferred. He then landed in Public Relations, which he still does and enjoys. However, Kyle wanted to be doing more. One thing Kyle realized in each of his jobs was how very unhappy people are in who they become. Why is this?  We all know we are going to work full time in some sort of career. How are we so unprepared for it?

Kyle then embarked on researching why this was happening. He surveyed college students, graduates, and the people who hire them. One of the key questions was, “What would you do differently?” Here are some of the responses:

  • Try harder in high school
  • Take the college application process more seriously
  • Look at more colleges
  • Do more research on majors and careers
  • Look at the student loans they would have to pay off for the major
  • Do more internships or networking

The findings showed that college graduates were unprepared, in debt, and not in jobs that were tied to their major.  This research is what launched Kyle into his speaking career and was the founding inspiration for his book To the Next Step coming out in May.

Kyle says, “We ask kids at a very young age what they want to be when they grow up. They are making decisions without researching. They are picking careers based on what their family does or what makes the most money, or what is safe. For example, a business degree seems safer than an artist.”

Kyle encourages kids to instead think about what brings them pride and satisfaction. Then finding jobs that align with that.

In preparing kids for life on their own, Kyle has them make a list of everything their parents do for them. Then he tells them to pick one item from that list and master it. Once they master that skill, pick another item off the list and master it. This could be doing laundry, creating a budget, or getting yourself up every morning, just to name a few. Kyle tells kids by doing this, you are softening the blow when you move out. You can be as prepared as possible, but there will always be things that come up that you’re not prepared to handle.

In his book, To the Next Step, it’s all about preparing kids for their next steps in life. It’s about helping them see the parts of life they don’t see coming and why they should care about it. His book includes guided questions to help kids define the person they want to be and what type of environment they thrive in. Kyle also talks about the college selection process and helping kids determine what makes it worth the price, questions to ask on campus tours, and preparing for graduation and the first year in the workforce.

You can watch my full interview with Kyle Grappone here. He goes more in detail with some of the steps and action items for kids in planning for their future. Kyle’s book will be available on Amazon in May.

What do you think about Kyle’s idea of kids making a master list? What tasks do you do for your child that they should start taking on? Tell us in the comments below.

My Ideal College Shares Tips for Your Child's First Job Interview

Tips for Your Teenagers Job Hunt

My Ideal College Shares Tips for Your Child's First Job InterviewDo you remember your first job? Mine what working in the cafeteria at a retirement/assisted living community. I can’t even remember how I heard about that job. My biggest memories from it are wearing the hairnet and how cold it was in the freezer. For many parents, their teenager may be getting ready to search for their first job. Applying for a job is a skill that all teenagers need but may not get the necessary guidance in high school.

We are lucky where we live. Our local Goodwill Career Center, in conjunction with our library, provides a great service to teens during Spring Break. They are conducting a series of workshops for teens – Resume Writing and Interviewing. I had my oldest attend them since he is on the hunt for a summer job. I asked my son to share the biggest takeaways he got from both sessions. Here is what he got out of the workshops that you can share with your teenager:

Top Tips for Resume Writing

  • Most kids under the age of 18 will not need a resume for a job.
  •  If they do, the resume doesn’t need to be more than half or a full page.
  • Your resume will need to include:
    • Name, Mailing Address, Phone Number, and Email Address
    • Brief Summary About Your Background – for a teen this may be where they were born, go to school, experiences they have gained, etc.
    • Work Experience – only if they have work experience
    • Volunteer Experience – you want to include the name of the organization, what specifically your child did and when
    • Organizations – Honor Society, Scouts, Athletic Teams
    •  Awards
    • References – you only need to put “references available upon request”
  • You can include accomplishments but make sure they are relevant to the job. For example, it might be exciting for a teen that they can stuff 20 marshmallows into their mouth. However, unless they are applying for a job as a circus performer, the company won’t see it as helpful for the job.
  • Keep the resume simple – you don’t need to include any fancy pictures or graphics.

Top Tips for Interviews

  • You only have one shot to make a good impression.
  • Be honest and don’t lie to try to get the job. The interviewer will either be able to tell or check if you are telling the truth.
  • When they ask what is your weakness, never give just one. They will ask for another weakness if you give just one. An example of a weakness may be that you are stubborn. But you could also say you are aware of this and it’s something you are working on to get better.
  • Posture is always key in an interview – don’t slouch.
  • Keep your legs together or cross them – it looks more professional.
  • Maintain eye contact – you could look at them for 4 seconds and take 1 second to look away.
  • Don’t wear bright colors or big jewelry as it will detract the interviewer from what you are saying.
  • Do wear grey, blue or white.
  • Be cautious in wearing black as the color can relay sadness. This is because black is typically worn at funerals.
  • For teenagers, it’s ok to ask about pay, hours, breaks, and flexibility.

What tips would you add to this list? Share in the comments so we can learn from each other. I’ll use your tip in an upcoming Facebook post.

Is your child an introvert or unsure about themselves? Do you want them to be interview ready? Check out our Best Foot Forward package. Your child will receive a report that outlines their greatest strengths. This report is an ego-boosting and confidence-building report that will help your child ace that first interview. Click here for details and to purchase.

My Child’s Journey – The How and Why of His Career Results

The past few weeks, I have been sharing my child’s journey to find his ideal college. I started with what his dad and I thought would be jobs he might find enjoyable and fulfilling. I also listened carefully to his ideas. Next, I had him take the Harrison Assessment. He is 16 and this is his first time taking an assessment like this.  Certainly, he is still growing and changing, but the results were consistent enough to process and produce a valid report.  

The image here shows what careers we thought might fit him before the assessment and then what the assessment told us. Wow, what a difference, right? Something with computers and music seem to be the closest match. However, I don’t think Donnie or I would have considered, on our own, these potential careers for him.         

Let’s look deeper at why the assessment picked these careers for Donnie and why the others would not have been a good fit. In my last blog, I mentioned that research shows if your job contains at least 75% of what you naturally like to do, you will be THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE SUCCESSFUL in that job or career. That is what this career assessment, Harrison Assessments, measures – career enjoyment and behavioral preferences based on enjoyment.

Teacher and Chef were rated at below 20% enjoyment. One of the main reasons is because while Donnie is good with kids and likes cooking, he has no desire to be around kids or food for 40 plus hours a week. Being around kids and food are essential factors to being successful in those roles.

Something with computers is a very broad career interest. There are many careers in sales, quality assurance, testing, fixing, etc. Donnie mentioned he would be interested in majoring in computer science and doing the same type of work his dad does, which is a Computer Support Specialist. Donnie scored an overall enjoyment score of 67.2%, while being a Sound Equipment Technician had an overall enjoyment score of 81.1%. Both require an enjoyment of computers, but what makes the difference in scores? It’s the additional traits that are essential to being successful in the role.

Many career assessments are just interest based. This means they only focus on what the person likes to do. They only ask questions like, “check the activities that describe what you like to do.” That is just one piece of the puzzle in deciding the best job for your child. The other very important piece is traits needed for that career. Traits are comprised of personality, attitude, motivation, work values, team vs. autonomous work, communication, authority expectations, and interpersonal skills.

What are some of the essential traits for a Computer Support Specialist and a Sound Equipment Technician?

As you can see in the image, the essential traits for each role are fairly different. The only overlaps are Analytical and Takes Initiative. How do we know these are essential traits for these roles? Because the key criteria for each role is based on research Harrison has done over the past 30 years on what leads to success in hundreds of different jobs.  Each role has been researched by high, mid, and low performers in those roles.

Now that we have pinpointed some careers for Donnie, the next step is to research the outlook for this career, salary, and where he would find this type of work. Would he have to move somewhere he doesn’t want to live? All of these are deciding factors in choosing a career.

Would you like to find out which careers would give your child the most enjoyment?  Contact us to learn more at info@myidealcollege.org.

A Career Decision That Turned into $80,000 in Debt

A parent shared with me that her first child, John, always wanted to be an anesthesiologist. Ever since he was in middle school, John was sure that was the career he wanted. The parents felt confident about his choice because that was what he wanted to do for so many years. So, their son went to college to be an anesthesiologist. But, a couple years into college, he realized he didn’t like anesthesiology. There were parts of the studies and the career John didn’t love. He just wasn’t interested in pursuing it anymore. He had a side job in sales that he really liked and decided to change his major to business. John now has a career in sales that he loves but is in $80,000 in college debt from starting his path in anesthesiology.

This parent contacted me because they wanted to make sure they didn’t make the same mistake with their second son.

How can you as a parent help your child avoid the same mistake? When they say, “I know what I want my career to be in. I am sure of it.” How can you feel more assured of their decision? Here are some easy tips for you:

  • Tip 1: Have your child talk to people currently working in their career of interest. This is an excellent opportunity for your child to find out what it’s like to work in that field. They can find out the schooling required, what a typical day is like, and tasks that are part of the job that they may not like so much. I recently connected a student interested in voiceover acting with someone in that field. It turns out there is a voice actor convention in a few weeks where she can attend and learn more.
  • Tip 2: Find out what courses are required to achieve a degree in that major. If John had done that, he would have realized much sooner that he didn’t want to be an anesthesiologist and wouldn’t be $80,000 in debt.
  • Tip 3: Have your child take a career assessment. This is very beneficial for kids who have no idea what they want to do, or if you want to make sure your child is picking a career they will enjoy.  There are many different career assessments. You want to make sure your child takes one that is linked to data based on actual jobs.  Contact me at laurie@myidealcollege.org if you want to learn more about using a career assessment to help your child.

In the end, your child’s career decision may stay the same, and that is great. You will have more confidence in their education and career path.  After following these tips, your child may decide they want to pursue a different career that is more aligned with what they naturally like to do. This is great news because you potentially saved yourself and your child future debt from heading down the wrong path.

It’s a win-win situation.

Does your child a have an interest in a career but doesn’t know anyone in that field? Feel free to reach out to me. I am happy to try to help connect them with a professional in their area of interest.

Are the highest paying jobs the best path to success

Are the Highest Paying Jobs The Best Path to Success?

Our kids are in high school and we know we need to have them get serious and answer this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As parents, it’s our responsibility to guide our kids in thinking about what they like to do. We may start searching the internet and read articles with titles like “The Best High Paying Jobs for the Future” or “High Paying Jobs Without a College Degree.” The lure of a high salary can be a driving factor but, like any job, there are pros and cons. It makes me think of thephrase “nothing in life is for free.” The same applies here. The job may pay ahigh salary but there is a reason for that high salary.

An air traffic controller’s annual salary is $122,000. On the surface, it sounds great. $122,000 a year to sit in a room and direct places where to go. Yet, being an air traffic controller has been named one of the most stressful jobs to have. Why? Because air traffic controllers have the responsibility of juggling various planes landing, taxing and taking off at the airport. One wrong move puts people’s lives on the line. Bad weather adds to the complexity and stress of the job. For some people, they would see these challenges as invigorating. While others are thinking the stress is not worth the money.

Are the highest paying jobs the best path to success

My friend, Sam, became a lawyer. The average lawyer makes $118,000 a year. The salary and excitement of being in a courtroom and defending people for their rights is what drove him to this career. While he did enjoy the salary, what he didn’t realize is that lawyers actually spend very little time in the courtroom. Most of the work a lawyer does is mundane tasks such as researching and preparing legal documents. Also, most lawyers make themselves available to their client 24/7. Because of the mundane work and overtime, the salary was not worth it to him and he changed careers.

There are many jobs out there that pay well but have downsides. You might enjoy reading this article: “You Will Hate These Jobs But Love the Money.” There are jobs in this article that I never knew existed. For example, a Deer Urine Farmer. I bet you can guess why someone would hate that job but also why it’s one of the highest paying jobs.

As your kids identify potential careers, encourage them to make a pros and cons list. What parts will they like about the job? And what parts of the job will they not like? They can search the internet for the pros and cons. Encourage them to talk to people in the field. If the cons outweigh the pros, then the career might not be a good fit and not a good investment of your money for education.

Have you changed careers? What were the downsides, like my friend, Sam, that you didn’t realize until you were in it that forced you to make the change? Tell us in the comments.


From Undeclared to Decided

So your college freshman is about to head out on their own but there is just one question that still doesn’t have an answer: what will they be majoring in? You hear their friends talk about majoring in things like business, music, chemistry, communications and so on. But your child has decided to go undeclared in their first semester of college. This could be ok but for a lot of people this can add an element of stress to college because you wonder how and when will your child ever find their major. These tips might just help you and your child get through this confusing time.

The first thing you can do as a parent is have a one-on-one conversation with your child about career options. Find out what they are really interested in and how you could help them turn their interests into a career. If they like music, have them look at all of the music careers that are out there: composing, performance, artist management and so on. If they like chemistry, do they want to be a chemist in a lab or a high school chemistry teacher? There are so many options out there and a lot of pre-college students forget about that.

Both of you can also create a pros and cons list for all of their career ideas as this can help narrow down some thoughts. Also talk about where they want to be in five years and do research together on internships they could try out before and during college.

Next, have your child find a mentor. This can be a great way for them to learn about a career through hands-on activity. It also gives them someone to look up to in their possible career field. Additionally, this can lead to great networking which will benefit them later on down the road when the job hunt begins!

And, while your child may not have found their ideal college don’t forget, we are still here for you. Ideally, you want to make decisions on colleges after a child has decided on a major preferably sometime in that Sophomore or Junior year of high school but, it’s never too late. And, it’s not the end of the world even if it is concerning to see them “undeclared.” We can help them choose the best major for them at their college of choice. Drop me an email at laurie@myidealcollege.org  or give me a call (you can schedule by clicking here) and we can chat about where you are in the process and how My Ideal College can help you.