Often, going to college can feel like a reflex response: students need a college degree to be competitive in today’s job market, and rush to enter a program lest they fall behind, falling victim to the ‘everyone else is doing it” mentality. Yet many students struggle in college when confronted with a seemingly endless number of career options and opportunities. Knowing what to consider when considering the future can help make choosing that career and college less frustrating.
When I grow up I want to be…
When your child was six, they wanted to be a firefighter: two years later it was a teacher. While a student’s choice of profession may continue to fluctuate, they will always have certain things they are good at and like doing. Understanding personal interests and abilities is as important to making an informed decision about career paths as statistics related to employment rates and average salaries. Often students feel pressured into certain career paths by their family, friends and the media. While you’d love another doctor or lawyer in the family, this may not align with your son or daughter’s intentions, and being pressured into a career option not of their choosing can often result in poor grades, disinterest or unhappiness. Finding the perfect profession is not easy: studies have shown that the average person switches their career path at least three times in their life. Get your student thinking early about what career choice strikes the right balance between his or her interests and abilities, and you’re helping them establish a sense of self that can lead to a happy, healthy and productive life.
The Quarter-Life Crisis?
Psychological research has shown that many people in their twenties begin to express doubt about their lives, generally brought on after a young person enters “the real world”. Most, if not all, college-age students experience what has come to be known as the ‘quarter-life crisis’. Many going through this phase express feelings of being lost, scared or confused about the future (think The Graduate or Office Space), and concern about a career after graduation can add to the anxiety. While chances are that your student will experience some form of anxiety about their future (who doesn’t?), this can be alleviated by educational and professional choices that are in line with a student’s passions and abilities.
Help! My Son wants to be a Mechanic!
Before you think about disownment, consider this: the average electrician makes about $50,000 a year (source: US Department of Labour). With so many people cashing in the blue collar for an office desk, skilled trades are in high demand. The skilled trades offer job security, entrepreneurial opportunities for the independent-minded, and are often challenging and rewarding experiences. Chances are if your student is already spending more time in the garage or rewiring your house, this might be a good career choice.