Part 2: 10 Tips For Parents To Get Your Child Ready For College and Careers

Pssst… Look at the bottom of this post for a chance to try out the first module of the CareerSmart Essentials course for Free!

During my most recent post, I shared the first five of 10 tips with parents to help you prepare your child for college, careers and life. Take a look at my previous blog to get the details behind these five tips listed here.

  • TIP 1: Communicate with your child that graduating from high school is VERY important.
  • TIP 2: Communicate with your child that working hard in middle school and high school is NOT just about getting into college.
  • TIP 3: As a parent, it may be necessary for you to intentionally learn more about the world of work.
  • TIP 4: Start learning now (when your child is in middle school ideally) about the postsecondary education search, application and funding process.
  • TIP 5: Encourage your child to develop strong employability skills.

Now, here are tips six through 10!

TIP 6:
Talk with your children about grit and determination and having a “growth mindset.”

This means believing that we can keep on learning and developing, we’re not stuck and we’re not victims of fate. Particularly when you are younger, it’s easy to think that successful people were just so gifted that they could not fail. But as life goes on, you realize that raw talent can only take you so far. Long-lasting success is the result of hard work and cultivating your natural abilities over time. As the saying goes, “it takes years and years of hard work to become an overnight success!”

It is so important for young people to realize that their natural aptitudes can be developed into skills and that a career is something that has to be cultivated over time. Youth should also be encouraged that – even a career direction that turns out not to be a good fit, is a learning opportunity. Sometimes these experiences can be sad, frustrating and seem like a waste of time. But we can reframe our outlook. It’s not a failure, it’s a learning experience. That mindset of grit, determination and growth is extremely important for personal success. As a parent, make sure to praise your child’s hard work and character, not just their natural talents.

TIP 7:
Get to know Career-focused Programs

Go online to your school system, a regional career technical center, and local community colleges to see what is available in terms of career-related programming. If you can, try to see some of the career-focused programs in the high schools or colleges for yourself. At the least, encourage your child to participate in a visit to CTE programs – post- secondary level, four-year colleges and community and technical colleges. In these college visits, do not only look at the cafeteria, the grounds, the gym, and the dorms, but do really think about the programs themselves.

Also, programs like union apprenticeships – what they offer, the fact the majority have no debt and its work and learn environment. So, it could be a great option for a lot of young people.

Encourage your child to take those career connected learning experiences, career exploration courses, career technical education courses, try out a part-time job, and then sign up for job shadows and worksite tours.

Participate in practice interviews and other sorts of in-school activities.

TIP 8:
Discourage a “magical career” Mindset

We’ve heard there’s a lot of pressure on young people to pursue their passion, to find that perfect fit career. But there really aren’t magical careers.

It’s a process. We need more than one option as we’re pursuing, so think about your
child having a plan A and a plan B and a plan C. Then, they can really try things out and through the process of trying and elimination, they’ll find a good path for themselves.

Tip 9:
Stay Involved and Stay Ready to Engage

Stay as involved as possible — it’s not always easy with teenagers — but a good parent is ready to encourage, ready to engage, keeps a positive attitude, rather than trying to get instant results and pushing too hard.

I certainly can speak from some of the mistakes I made in that area. Being positive and ready to engage is much more productive than being heavy-handed.

TIP 10:
Don’t Stop Believing

Finally, just don’t stop believing in your child. If they’re loved and supported, they may have some detours, they may have some difficulties but they will ultimately find their way. So, don’t stop believing in them.

At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.

Now, I want to tell you about a resource that NC3T has created; it’s called CareerSmart Essentials. This self-paced, online course for teens and young adults helps them develop essential knowledge and skills about planning for careers, college and life.

It’s pretty much everything I went through in those parents’ steps, covered in the CareerSmart Essentials course. It can either be purchased by education systems or it can be purchased individually.

You can visit the CareerSmart Essentials course page, and take Module 1 completely free of charge to give the course a look.

If you go to NC3T’s website and go to the drop-down menu, “HOW WE CAN HELP,” scroll to CareerSmart Essentials then you can see more about the course. You can actually download a free copy of the Education and Career Plan template that the course is built around.

So, I would encourage you to take a look at that.

Hans Meeder is President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions ( NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.