How to Encourage Your Child’s Heart Without College Debt

A mom posted this question in a Facebook group. “How do you encourage your kids to follow their heart but not into debt?!”

It’s a tough question. On one side, we want to be encouraging and tell our kids to live their dreams. On the other hand, we also envision them being able to afford a house, raise a family, and retire at a decent age. I know I would have a hard time seeing my child struggle in making a living.  

Here are some of the many comments the mom received from her Facebook post:

“It’s impossible.”

“I tell my kids, I don’t care what they do, but they have to be able to support themselves.”

“Passion doesn’t pay the bills.”

“Be very clear about the debt – not only will it impact his/her ability to buy a home in the future, but it also impacts his/her ability to retire. Ask if it’s worth working another five or more years when they are in their 60’s. Because the money they’ll be spending to pay back debt in their 20s and 30s would be money, they could have put towards retirement.”

“Debt isn’t evil. Debt with a plan is the only way some of our kids will get a college degree.”

A parent recently shared with me that she wished someone had coached her before her kids went to college. The parent ended up derailing their own retirement dreams to help out their child in college debt. The child lived at home for years to help offset the debt.

Here is how you can help your child balance their career dream and the financial impact it may have:

  1. Research, research, research the career. Too many kids think they want a particular job then a year or two after college they realize they hate it and don’t want it as a career
  2. Have them find out the annual salaries for the career they want. ONET Online is an excellent resource for this.
  3. Understand the projected growth for the career. Will there be more or fewer jobs in the future? Where are these jobs located?
  4. Determine where they can get the education and figure out the costs – room, board, meal plans, books, etc.

Once your child completes these steps they can then better determine if they still want to pursue their dream career.  Maybe they are willing to incur the debt and will set a clear plan of how they will pay it off.  One parent on Facebook suggested that kids Listen to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or Chris Hogan’s Everyday Millionaire.

This is why it’s essential to help your child determine their career choices in sophomore and junior years of high school. You need the time to create a clear financial plan to get them to their ideal college. I suggest you work with a college financial planner that can help you with economic aspects like merit aid and scholarships.

What are your thoughts or ideas on this topic? Tell us in the comments below.

Contact me if you want to make sure your child is making the right career choice. I utilize a career assessment that matches a person’s interest directly to specific jobs. The jobs have been thoroughly researched on what it takes to be successful and what could derail success. Email me at laurie@myidealcollege.org.


My Child’s Journey to Find His Ideal College

Laurie shares her journey in helping her kids find their ideal college.

I am a mom of two boys, Donnie and Thomas. Donnie is a sophomore in high school. Thomas is in 6th grade. I am walking down the same path as many parents of high schoolers in helping Donnie find his ideal college. I thought I would share with you my journey.

I have the same hopes and dreams for my kids as you do. We want our children to succeed. We want to feel relieved, assured and confident about our child’s future. We envision a life for them where they are pursuing a college education for a career they will truly enjoy.

How do we start them on the path of finding their career? It starts at a young age. Like many parents, my husband and I would get Donnie involved in different activities to help him explore his interests and see what would stick.

I love to do crafty things but Donnie was not interested and never has been. We tried soccer for a couple of years but that wasn’t his thing. Then we started him in Tae Kwon Do. This was an activity that did stick. Yes, there were quite a few times when he resisted in going to class. However, more times than not he was happy he attended, even when we had to “force” him to go. After a few years of dedication and many class hours, he achieved his black belt. Fun fact, I started taking Tae Kwon Do classes a couple years after Donnie. I wanted exercise and decided to participate versus just watching. If it weren’t for Donnie, I would have quit after the first class. I found learning the patterns frustrating. Now I have my black belt.

We also got Donnie involved in scouting. My husband was a scout growing up. He enjoyed what he learned and the friendships he gained. Scouting was an activity that Donnie enjoyed too. Donnie’s favorite part of scouting is the camping. I have enjoyed watching Donnie’s leadership skills that he continues to develop throughout the ranks. In watching him with the younger scouts, I thought he might like to pursue a career in teaching. Donnie has a great amount of patience with kids and has an incredible ability to explain things to them in a way they understand.

Donnie has also developed an interest in cooking. This has come in handy and is quite tasty. We have delegated many dinners for him to prepare. I started wondering if he would like to become a chef. He also asks for cameras as presents. Maybe he would become a photographer.

He likes band and has played the trombone since 6th grade. He even joined the marching band in high school. I started to wonder if Donnie would be interested in a career that involved music.

Last semester, Donnie was in a writing class. He struggled all semester in this class because he hates writing. He hates writing like I hated math in school. Then, the writing teacher assigned a final project. The students had to create a video for a story that was also turned into a movie. They had to write about the differences and similarities between the book and the movie. Donnie chose the Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. I share this with you because I was amazed at the level of dedication Donnie had on this project. I had never seen him take so much interest in a homework assignment. He literally sat for hours and hours working on this project without any pushing from me to get it done. What was it about this project? The topic? Making a film? Is there something there that could turn into a career for him?

When you ask Donnie what he wants to do he says he wants to go to Kennesaw State for college and major in Computer Science like his dad. Although he has no idea what he wants to do with computers as a career. There are thousands of different jobs that he could get into that involve computers – sales, analytics, testing, web developer, IT security, video game developer.

After years of different experiences, I could see Donnie as a teacher, chef, photographer, maybe something in music, or something with computers.

How do you pick the right college and career with such a wide range of interests? Even if we just focus on computers there are so many different jobs. The job he would truly enjoy may not require a computer science degree.

The good news is Donnie has a mom who provides an assessment that can narrow this decision down for him. I had Donnie take the assessment. In next week’s blog, I will share the results. Did the assessment pick one of the potential jobs I saw for him, or did it come up with careers I wouldn’t have considered?

What careers do you see your kids’ having potential in and why? Tell us in the comments.

My Ideal College shares how to make the college search process easy.

How To Make the College Search Process Easy

Our family has a New Year’s Eve tradition of making fondue at home. I love this tradition for many reasons. One is the chocolate fondue. The other is that the fondue process forces us to sit, relax, and talk. It’s not a cook, put on the table, eat, and then go our separate ways. It’s a process where you sit together, choose what you want to put in the pot, and then you allow it to cook in the broth for a few minutes. We have steak, chicken, pork, and a variety of veggies – all in bite-sized pieces. We easily spend more than an hour of cooking, eating, and chatting.

My Ideal College shares how to make the college search process easy.

Being New Year’s Eve, our discussion includes our resolutions for the upcoming year. One of my resolutions is to be able to hold a plank position for 2 minutes. This led to an impromptu family competition of who could hold a plank the longest. My boys did outlast me but not by as much as I thought they would. #momwin

Now that my oldest child is a sophomore in high school, his resolutions are more about the college search and his career path. He does aspire to be a YouTube star. Luckily, he is realistic and knows he needs other income as he builds his YouTube empire.

I hear from many parents of first-time high schoolers. They know they need to help their child in their college search, but they don’t know where to start. Their child may have ideas for their future but what is the right answer? How can we help our kids without spending wasted countless hours and money finding the solution?

I am going to make this easy and break it down for you…

First, I want you to approach the college search process as a project. With any project, you need to outline action items, who’s responsible for completing the action items, and due dates for each action item. Your child will be responsible for most action items. However, there will be some you need to do and you need to guide your child along the way.

Next here are some action items your child should be doing broken down by grade:

9th grade – Explore extracurricular activities that they will enjoy and build new skills, it could be a sport, a learning a new language, technology related, etc.

10th grade – Start exploring careers of interest, meet with people in that career, identify the education needed for that career.

11th grade – Plan which colleges you want to tour, find when college fairs will be in your area.

12th grade – If you are going to college, look for scholarships to help offset costs. Keep up with good study habits and celebrate!

The college search and application process requires a lot of paperwork. Do you need some organization in your life? Check out the My Ideal College Countdown Organizer. You get a full list of exactly of what you need to do by grade plus a place to track actions and keep those important documents in one place.

Regardless if your child follows a path to a four-year college, goes to technical college, or takes a gap year, you need to help them plan for their future.

Want more guidance in your life in how to help your child in the college search process? Book a complimentary strategy session with me. I can answer your questions and provide advice on what to do next. You can email me at laurie@myidealcollege.org to schedule a time.

Tell us in the comments what your plans are this year to help your child in the college search process.

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