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.


How to Get Your Teenager to Take More Initiative

Do you have this issue with your teenager? You tell them to speak with their teacher to resolve a concern about a grade, to find out more about a project, or to reach out to their guidance counselor. But they just don’t do it. As parents, it’s frustrating because we can’t understand why it’s so hard for our kids to have these conversations. We wonder why they just won’t take the initiative. To help me overcome this challenge with my own kids, I reached out to Meg Lee, co-author of Mindsets For Parents: Strategies to Encourage Growth Mindsets in Kids. Meg has over 20 years experience in working in at levels in public education.

Meg shared with me an easy strategy you can use to help your child take more initiative when it comes to having conversations with adults.

Institute a back-and-forth journal with your teenager

My Ideal College shares ways to help your teenager take more initiative.

This simple book, which can be passed back and forth at regular intervals, gives the teenager a chance to talk to the parent in a safe way, as both parties have time to digest what is being said.  Often, parents write more at first, but Meg has found much power in helping to bring out the root causes of teens’ challenges, and in this case, it might help coax the child to be a bit more assertive. 

This concept could extend to talking to others like their teachers or guidance counselor… if your teenager is not comfortable going to speak with that person, would they be comfortable writing a note at first?  This is often a good first step for kids who fear not knowing how to handle what an adult might ask of them in a conversation.  While not a substitute for being comfortable with face-to-face interaction, this is often a good starting point.

Meg also shares that role-playing conversations with a trusted adult can be a wonderful way for teens to gain confidence.  It may sound goofy (and your child will certainly think so), but it is worth trying just to give them some language to use or some background experience before they have to enter a conversation or situation when they have to take initiative. Helping your child learn to take more initiative will serve them well throughout life – in college, their careers, and in relationships. What tips do you have to help your child take more initiative? Tell us in the comments below.

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