Your youngster is showing signs of academic potential and you’re feeling proud of his or her achievements. As a parent, you’re also thinking about the future. How can you help this promising young student prepare for adulthood and a career? Although you recognize the dangers of putting too much pressure on a child, there are many things you can do to provide support.
1. Going Ivy? Get Help!
Knowing how to get into elite colleges isn’t a simple matter, and nor is choosing the ivy-league college that will be right for your child. However, we all know that a degree from a top college can set a young person up for success. If your child is already a high school senior, you can get help from independent educational counsellors. They will guide you through the application process, helping your son or daughter to choose the right college and showing them what they need to do to be accepted for the degree course of their choice.
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2. Younger Children? Nurture Their Interests
Expecting a very young person to settle on a study direction that will lead to a career is a bit of a tall order, but as a parent, you do have insight into the things they enjoy doing and what interests them. Although your child may not be ready to pinpoint a career direction yet, you can certainly nurture his or her interests.
Find ways for them to relate the things they love doing to possible careers, and spend time helping them to understand what kind of work people in these careers do. Be bold! Many professionals are more than willing to spend some time with a young person who takes an interest in their specialty. For example, a nurse has inside information on what nursing work is like, and what different types of nurses do.
3. Encourage Independent Thinking
“Enterprising” children can be something of a handful, and it can be tempting to put a damper on their enthusiasm. However, teaching kids to think for themselves will help to prepare them for the demands of college and career, where nobody holds your hand and it’s all up to you. Use simple, day-to-day incidents to encourage independent thought. If they should or shouldn’t do something, tell them why you think it’s a good or bad idea and invite debate. You can do this from the time they are very small, and some of the answers you will get will be surprisingly insightful!
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4. Show Them How to Find Information
Whether you are a student or a professional, knowing where to find information can be even more important than already having the answers. If your children have questions, show them how to find reliable answers instead of just telling them what you know and leaving it at that. In an academic environment, where supporting your statements is a must, knowing where to find information is a vital skill. Teach your children that any conclusions they make should be based on reliable evidence. It’s an important life-skill, and it will be enormously helpful when they become college students.
Not Everyone Wants to go To College, and That’s OK
Trying to live out your dreams and ambitions through your children is an enormous pitfall to avoid. You may have loved the chance at a Harvard education, for example, but pushing too hard for something your child isn’t interested in could cause them to develop an aversion for having their lives mapped out by someone else. As a parent, you’re used to taking the lead, but when it comes to deciding their future, you can only guide and support your child.
Although a college education is a good start, not all young people will be interested in it, and that’s OK. After all, some of the world’s most successful people never got a degree!