How To Approach College Admissions After the Scandal

My Ideal College shares how to approach college admissions after the scandal.

It’s been a week since the college admissions scandal first made the news. When I first heard about it, I didn’t want to believe it. I thought something can’t be right. I couldn’t imagine actresses like Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin would bribe and cheat to get their kids into college.

Then I heard about the recordings and what was documented from them.  I realized this was true. Was I shocked this happened? No, but typically parents would give a large donation to a college to ensure their child’s admittance to a specific college. While technically it’s legal, it’s still not ethically right to do. But as I have learned college is a business, and they need to make money.

Now more in-depth investigations start, lawsuits abound, and parents and high school kids are left wondering what do we do now. Most likely there will be some changes made to the college admissions process.

Parents, I know some of you have your heart set on your child going to your alma mater or another school because of its name. But guess what? It’s not about what you want, it’s what’s best for your child.

One of my favorite articles to come out of this scandal is from NPR, “Does it Matter Where You Go to College?” In the article, they site Gallup research that found college selectivity did not correlate at all with later satisfaction in work or fulfillment in life. As NPR reported in 2014, “Those percentages did not vary based on whether the grads went to a fancy name-brand school or a regional state college, one of the top 100 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings or one of the bottom 100.”

Forcing your child into a path that is not their own will only lead to anxiety, frustration, dropping out, and possibly debt. College is stressful enough without the pressure from their parents. You can check out my article about college stress here.

In my interview last fall with a Linda Dennis, a college application specialist, she shared that kids who declare a major in the application process and show they have already taken steps towards that career can have an advantage. It shows they are serious about that career. In light of the scandal, I think this will play a more significant role in the college admissions process. Colleges will be paying closer attention to why the child wants to attend their school. It’s transitioning to more than just the overall reputation of the school but how the specific major will help them towards a career.

Some kids determine from an early age what their career path will be and they go for it. Most kids have no idea what they want to do. You may be thinking, how can a teenager determine what career they want, since their interests change so much at this time? This is not true. In each of us, there are inherent traits and interests that are well formed by high school age. It may seem the child’s interests change because they can only identify those interests through their experiences. A good career assessment can help identify those traits that kids may not necessarily be aware they have or able to process those traits into actual jobs.

What are your thoughts on the college admissions scandal? How has it changed your thinking about your child’s future? Tell us in the comments below.

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

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 difference between what careers we thought would be a good fit and the assessment results.

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

My Child’s Journey to His Ideal College – The Results

Deciding the best career for your child is the first step in picking a college.

Last week I shared that I have a 15-year-old son, Donnie, whom we are trying to help find his ideal college. I shared my stories of the different activities and interests we have provided him to help see where his interests lie. I am sure as a parent you have done the same as well. You can click here if you missed that blog. 

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

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

I had Donnie take the career assessment that I have all my clients take to help them identify careers they will enjoy.

Research shows that if your job contains at least 75% of what you naturally like to do, you will be THREE TIMES MORE SUCCESSFUL.

When you see that statement, it makes perfect sense. They only way to find those jobs is to take an assessment. You are not going to find it just by talking with people. The assessment I use, Harrison Assessments, is able to match people to jobs based on this research.

So what jobs did the assessment match Donnie to? His top four jobs are:

  1. Sound Equipment Technician
  2. Multi Media Production Specialist
  3. Lighting Technician
  4. Film Editor

Donnie’s natural interests fit best with these jobs. Each of the jobs listed are researched by people in those roles. We know what traits are needed to be successful in those roles and traits that might derail success. It’s all researched, backed information.

I might have said being a film editor would be something for Donnie to pursue without taking the assessment based on the one class project I mentioned in the last blog. I never would have guessed the other three jobs the assessment picked for him. How could I if he never had any kind of experience or activities in those areas?

Guess what his scores were for the jobs like teacher and chef? They were in the 20% range of him actually enjoying those jobs. I don’t want to even think about the money I could have wasted if he pursued education in those fields. No doubt, after a year or two, Donnie would say, “Mom, I hate studying to be a teacher (or chef). I can’t imagine having a career in it.”

In my next blog, I will share Donnie’s specific traits that matched well for his identified careers and why teacher and chef were not good matches for him. What traits does your child have that you think would lend well to a specific career?  Tell us in the comments below.

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.

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

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 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.

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.

The Best Way To Work With The High School Guidance Counselor

Last week, I talked about how it’s not the guidance counselor’s responsibility to fully prepare your child about their future.  It’s the parent’s responsibility. You can click here to read the blog if you missed it. I did have one parent comment that it’s the child’s and parent’s responsibility. I fully agree, but as parents we have to sometimes provide our children with advice on how to move forward. Especially if they have no idea on what they want to do for their future.

Guidance counselors can provide great insights to help your child's future.

One way to guide your child is to have them reach out to their guidance counselor. They can share resources, provide insights about some options, and make sure your child stays on track to graduate. The guidance counselor wants your child to succeed.

Encourage your child to start meeting with their guidance counselor in their freshman year of high school and then meet another 2 – 3 times throughout the school year. The counselor will be able to provide the best guidance, the better they get to know your student.

Before your child has a meeting with the guidance counselor, have them formulate the questions they want to ask. Here are some possible questions:

  • What’s the best way to plan my high school courses for the college I want to attend?
  • What career tools does our school offer?
  • When is the PSAT scheduled? What study services does our school offer?
  • When do I need to consider dual enrollment?
  • Would dual enrollment be a right fit for me?
  • When and where are college fairs offered?
  • Does our school provide college tours? When?
  • What are the best schools for the career I want to go into?

Encouraging your child to meet with their guidance counselor not only provides support, but also encourages them to start thinking and taking ownership of their future

Parents, make sure to attend any parent nights at your child’s high school. They give key information about graduation requirements, testing dates, college fairs, and more. Also, check out your school’s guidance counselor page on the school’s website. It can include key dates and reminders.

If you are interested in knowing more about dual enrollment, check out my series of blog posts about it. Our local high school guidance counselors provided great insights into what to consider and how to determine if it’s a right choice for your child. You can click on each link to go to the specific blog.

What questions do you have for a school guidance counselor? Post in the comments below.

My Ideal College shares how to not let college debt put a hold on your retirement.

How to Avoid Putting Your Retirement On Hold

A parent recently told me……

“I am facing retirement in less than two years. I wish I put my children’s hopes and dreams into perspective. College kids aren’t the only ones who take out education loans. More parents need to understand the impact of their child’s future on their own hopes and dreams.”

Debbie, Parent
My Ideal College shares how to not let college debt put a hold on your retirement.

My husband and I dream of traveling more in retirement. We hope to get an RV and travel all across the United States. While we are on target, we need more savings to retire. The good news is that we do have 529 plans for our kids, but it’s not nearly enough to cover their entire tuition for a standard four-year institution.

We are not alone. Many parents start college savings plans shortly after their kids are born. Yet, as they get closer to graduating from high school, we realize it’s not enough.

As parents, we are invested in helping our kids find and live their hopes and dreams. I know I would do anything to help my kids live their best life. But how much am I willing to derail my dreams for them?

I have one easy tip for you to help relieve some of that fear. That is to reach a mutual agreement between you, your spouse, and your child about the educational path your child will pursue after high school. The path should drive them towards their career. Makes sense, right? It’s why we pay the $100,000 plus tuition because we expect our children to get jobs in the field their major is in.

Here is why this is so important. A friend of mine has a nephew who had a dream of working in the audio-visual field. My friend and the mom knew the child was not “college material.” The father was fine with the field his son wanted to go into, BUT he was insistent that he attend a four-year institution. The son attended and dropped out a year and a half later. It wasn’t because of the audio-visual courses, it was the other courses required for graduation that he suffered. That year and a half put the family $20,000 in debt. That put a big dent into their retirement fund.

Think about these questions:

  • What are the career aspirations you have for your child?
  • Are they realistic for what your child’s interests are?
  • What kind of financial support can you provide for your child’s post high-school education?
  • How open are you to considering educational options other than a four-year college?

Next, have your child answer these questions:

  • Where do they see their future?
  • What are their career aspirations?
  • If they have specific careers in mind, what about those careers appeals to them?
  • What are the different educational options for that career – four-year college, technical college, certification?

Once you have a clear answer to these questions, have a conversation with your child. Then come to a mutual agreement on a path and start planning for it.

If your child is unclear on what career they are interested in, there are options for you.  Many high-schools offer free career assessments. Some are better than others. You want to make sure the assessment suggests actual jobs versus broad fields and that it’s directly tied to your child’s natural interests.

At My Ideal College, we use assessments that directly correlate a child’s interests into actual jobs. We are able to match your child’s interests based on the research of what it takes to be successful in each role.

Please contact us to help get your child started on the right path and you to your retirement dreams. Give us a call at 678-761-3550 or email us at

Why It Pays to Share Our Stories With Our Kids

This week our family will make our annual pilgrimage to my in-laws’ house to celebrate Thanksgiving. It has become our tradition for many years, and I love it. They live in the quaint small town of Hendersonville, NC. This year I will be participating in the City of Hendersonville Turkey Trot for my 5th year in a row. The first couple of years I did it by myself. Now it has become a family affair with all of my in-laws and my kids.  My husband, who is a fantastic cook, stays home to prepare our feast. This is us at last year’s Turkey Trot.

Laurie Genevish of My Ideal College shares Thanksgiving traditions and why it's important to share our stores with our kids.

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. There is no worry about getting presents. It’s just a time to be with family and friendsthat you might not see often. You can catch up and share stories.

Our kids can learn from hearing people’s different stories.It’s especially important to share your stories in their high-school years. Ourkids are in that time of their life when they know “adulthood” is approaching soon.

While running errands my son asked, “What’s it like being an adult?” I had to pause for a moment as It was not a question I was expecting.  Plus, in my mind, not one that I can answer in just a few sentences. My short answer to my son was “its about learning how to live on your own, to find a job that you enjoy, and finding your path to the life you want.” I added that I would share my story during the Thanksgiving holiday. This would include my life path, the successesand challenges I experienced as I learned how to be an adult.

If we don’t share our stories with our kids, they only see where we are now. They may think we miraculously somehow got to our path in life. They don’t know about our missteps and what we learned from our experiences, and what we would have done differently. Our kids should not only hear about our own stories but of other family members and friends. We all have our unique paths and our kids can learn from each of them.

What will my story include? I will share about my experiences in college, how I thought I was going to be a marine biologist, then how I was sure that being a fundraiser was my life’s path because I cause motivated. However, I ended up being so burned out from the long hours and little pay. I lived with my parents because I wasn’t making enough money. How a meeting in an elevator started my joy in a career in training and development. The time I had to decide whether to stay in my hometown in North Carolina or take a career opportunity of a lifetime that would have me moving all by myself to California. How living by myself taught me life skills of finding somewhere to live, the ups and downs of the roommates I had, how to get myself out of debt, finding doctors, and so on. How taking the risk of getting out of my comfort zone and moving to California was the best decision I made for myself. Not only did my career flourish but I met the love of my life. We just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.

What is your story that you will share with your kids?  Tell us in the comments below. Encourage others to share their stories around the Thanksgiving table. I guarantee your kids will get some great life lessons that will help them as they move forward into adulthood.

Happy Thanksgiving!