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.

Picking a college is like Disney+

How Picking a College is Like Disney+

Picking a college is like Disney+

I have been waiting for months for this week to come. The launch of Disney+! Opening the app on my TV felt like I was opening a present on Christmas morning. All the movies that have been in the Disney “vault” were finally at my disposal – Mary Poppins, Dumbo, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast. OH MY! I was so excited that I posted about it on Facebook.

Then guess what happened….

I froze. I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t decide. I spent a good 30 minutes just delving into the app to see what was there. I would start a movie but then decided I wanted to watch something else and then I would switch again.

There were too many options. I had so many interests that it was hard for me to decide which movie or show to watch.

Does your teen feel this way about their future? They know at some point, they need to make a decision about what to do after high school.  But they have so many interests, and there are too many options for careers (some they may not even be aware of). It’s all just so overwhelming.

Some teens have their career and life plan figured out, but they are in the minority. Research shows that one out every ten students will change their major at least three times. I hear the sounds of money being flushed down the drain when this happens.

So how can you help your teen feel not so overwhelmed and keep your money from going down the toilet?

Ask your teen these questions:

  • What are your favorite subjects, and why?
  • What classes do you wish were offered, and why?
  • Do you find joy working outside or in an office?

By answering these three questions, your child can start googling jobs that incorporate their interests. For example, they could search jobs that include math and working outdoors. It gives them a starting point to find out if it’s something they want to pursue.

We’re here to help you and your child choose the right career path and major the first time around and avoid flushing money down the drain.  Contact us at 678-761-3550 or support@myidealcollege.org.

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.

Ways Moms Can Connect with Their Teens

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.

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

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.”