My younger son has a learner’s driving permit. When we go out, he always asks, “Can I drive?” He is eager to be on his own, and it’s no secret that he is a planner. He already has plans A, B, and C for his future, which includes college. And he is confident in the career he wants to pursue.
On the other hand, my 19-year-old son is very different. He graduated from high school and went into the Marine reserves. We knew forcing him to go to college would not have been good for him. He decided to join the Marine reserves on his own. As a mom, I was super nervous as the military was a big unknown for me. I pictured what I saw in movies and thought, “is he going to make it out alive?” OK, maybe that was a little dramatic. In the end, the reserves were the best thing for him. He is more focused and takes more initiative than before. In less than a month after returning home, he has a job at a company with good growth opportunities.
Every kid is different, even in the same family. Still, our end goal is the same: we want to see them become independent, secure financially, and emotionally happy.
It’s essential to start planning your teen’s future before their junior year. When you wait until they’re a senior, you feel pressured to make a decision quickly. Parents often waste time and money, visiting and paying application fees to the wrong schools, or making decisions that result in their students changing majors or eventually dropping out. This path does not lead to the independent financial and emotional happiness you want for your teen.
At the same time, you want to support and guide your teen in the right direction. But they must take ownership of their future.
How do we as parents help guide (not control) the future-planning process while our teens are in high school? Here are some ideas for you.
- Let them try it out – give them experiences that can light a spark. If they are interested in a particular school or career, say wow, that’s great! Find some information about it, and tell me what you learn.
- Ask where they need help – instead of telling them what steps to take to find potential careers, ask them what they should do next.
- Provide tools and resources – share what methods worked for you or people you know. If your teen resists, just offer it and let them know it’s there for them when they need it.
The key is that you are guiding, not controlling, the process.
The great news is that you don’t have to go it alone. My Ideal College is here to help you guide your teen to the right future path. I want you to feel assured, relieved, and confident about your teen’s future.
It’s time to schedule a complimentary college assessment plan call with me. In this 30-minute call, we will identify you and your teen’s vision about their future, the obstacles keeping you from getting there, and ways to achieve your goals.