Decisions! Decisions!


Today's political climate finds the U.S. juxtaposed between two divergent ideologies when asked, "Is college for me?" What are you saying K. White?! Too many syllables, too early in the year, and too early in the day! #OopsMyBad What I'm saying is, many families & neighbors are still wrestling with the idea of sending their students to college right out of high school. Some think they need to work a bit, some are leaning towards community college (or JuCo), a few are leaning towards the armed forces, and others are ready dive right into higher education. Either way, since it's a gamble, no one knows how it's going to turn out until it does. Then, we begin the process of monitoring and adjusting when needed. As an educator, I've seen the solid C in high school student thrive in college, and the honor roll high school student not thrive. The class clown can become the student government association (SGA) president, or the captain of the cheer squad/homecoming queen voted most likely to marry rich choose the Peace Corp after college graduation. College is a place of discovery and empowerment, but so is the military, mission work, or the work force. If your student is a high school senior and still has no definite plan for the day after graduation except spending their graduation money, then that conversation is long overdue. If you've been leaving it up to them to tell you, and they haven't, well, perhaps it's most likely because they don't know. Quite a number of parents take a wait and see approach. Frankly, most 18 years lack the cognitive fortitude to think past their right now. It's not that they can't, obviously. But, decisions like these can't and shouldn't be made without practical guidance. Here are a few PREP Pointers: 1) You and your student create a "Glows & Grows" list (in separate spaces), then share out #teachertalk. Each of your lists should include your student's Glows: talents, gifts, skills, and Grows: what they need to improve. The idea is to begin the next step - dialogue. Create a "A Real Talk" commitment that promises to listen, not judge, and listen. We've learned that dialogue is easier done when light snacks are shared (bowl of popcorn, large fries, grapes, trail mix, etc), and a box of tissues. This is designed to be a heart to heart session.

2) Take a career aptitude test. There are several free ones, so find one your student likes because he or she will be the one stick around to explain some of the terminology, but don't hover. It is okay if they decline your offer. But, at least you put it out there, right? We are usually in the room or very nearby to be ready for questions, but we are engaged in another activity. You can Help them identify talents & skills they may not see in themselves by using the "Glows & Grows" list.

3) Instead of asking on the spot, nerve-wracking questions like "What are you going to do with your life or what do you want to be when you finally grow up?" Consider asking, "if money was no object, how do you want to change the world or What legacy or impact do you want to make so you leave the world better?" To some no nonsense parents this might sound corny, but it's really not. If your student pauses, let them. If necessary, give them a day or two to think about it. But, bring it back around! Then, resume the dialogue with a fresh perspective.

4) Share with them who you were at their age, what you thought about life back then, the opposite sex, etc, & what you know now. Highlight comparisons & differences to today's times. Share some funny stories or even the mindful "do over" moments, but be honest and transparent. Reflection is a positive thing, but don't get sidetracked in this process.

5) After the career aptitude test, research the top 3 - 5 suggestions. You can do this together or have your student research and report back to you. Create a quick list of facts they should search for in that field: who is doing that job, what education, skills, etc are required, what's the highest level they can reach, what Lexile reading level do they need to have that job & are they there...if not, create & execute a plan to get there ASAP! Don't forget to look up the low, middle, & high average salaries.

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