I belong to a Facebook group for my local school district. Parents and teachers post items ranging from promoting school events to asking various questions about their kids’ education. Here is what one mom posted:

“My child has no academic desire. I realize school isn’t his thing. What trades do your kids do? Where do they work? Are they happy?”

This mom’s questions are ones that many parents have. Just because your teen isn’t “made for college” doesn’t mean they won’t have a happy, fulfilling career. They are good, well-adjusted kids who just have a different path.

Many kids go to college because it’s what we, the parents expect, only to realize later that they didn’t choose 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 six years and never graduate.

I understand why many of us have the mentality that our kids must go to college. That’s what most parents expected when I was growing up. The path is, you go to college right after high school. However, times have changed:

  • For some kids, going to college is right for them
  • Many trade jobs pay good money and need to be filled
  • Some teenage entrepreneurs already run a successful business

The point is, there are many options for your teen. We all have our unique paths. It’s no longer required that you must go to college after high school. My older son is talking about taking a gap year, which 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, Ted Turner, Mary Kay Ash, Jay Z, and yes, even Steve Jobs.

What I loved most about that mom’s Facebook post is that she realized that her son 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 teen’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 kid is still living at home at age 30 with college debt. I don’t know many parents who would 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. 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 we use at My Ideal College.
  • Write out action steps – once your teen narrows down their career choices, write action steps to move them towards a specific path. These steps may include: talk to people in that field, find out the job outlook for that career, identify the education path required to land a position, etc.

As a parent, I know that sometimes our kids have a difficult time listening to us. That’s one reason why many parents come to me for help. Kids are more likely to listen to someone other than their own parents, even if it’s the same advice. I would be happy to help your teen identify careers they will love and thrive in. Click here to schedule a complimentary strategy session with me.