Adolescence is a difficult stage of life. Trying on different identities, developing emotional intelligence and socialization skills, deluged with social media in a rapidly evolving global economy – it’s an emotional roller coaster. Add the need to prepare to live independently in the future, and it can seem overwhelming. Good thing children are born to struggle. They can figure it out if we let them.
Listen and explore
The teen years represent rites of passage for our young ones. Our role is to love and support them emotionally and financially as they develop their emotional resilience. We can listen to them, mirror and validate their feelings, allow them to generate their own sense of self-worth as they try, succeed or fail, and try again. We can encourage them to use their high school years to expose them to many different paths in life.
With this perspective, winter and summer breaks can be more than opportunities to enjoy family life. They can look for summer camps, courses, programs, community involvement, internships and jobs that expose themselves to many different fields. Discovering what they are not passionate about is as important as finding out what excites them.
Career selection paralysis results from the fear of choosing the wrong career path. Help him understand that it’s okay if he doesn’t initially choose the “right” career.
Some kids follow the career paths of their parents. Others know what they want to do with their lives early on. Many don’t, and the spectrum of choices seems limitless. Her first job after graduation will probably not directly lead to her ultimate career path. She may spend four years earning a diploma, maybe get a job, and discover she wants to do something else. Then what?
Manage risk and cost
Given the riskiness of career bets, it makes sense to consider a local strategy that limits your expense yet provides your teen with many options. Community college may lack the cachet and social opportunity of private universities, but it also lacks the price tag. Many types of courses are available at nominal cost. State colleges and many private schools accept credits for required courses in your teen’s majors.
Encourage your adolescent to consider the least costly education that will lead directly to employment in her best bet of her field of choice. If you think a bachelor’s degree is the only path to achieving desired career and financial goals, think again. Median earnings of an individual with an associate’s degree in applied science parallel that of a bachelor’s-degree holder a decade after graduation – $54,146 compared to $55,287 respectively.1
Keep his eye on the prize
Help your young adult “get in the game” right out of college. This requires marketable skills pertaining to a job in high demand that requires human effort. With a decent job, and little or no debt, he will be ready for round two. Who knows? He might end up at graduate school with a clear sense of mission.
About the Author
Mark Blair, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, is president of Blair Wealth Management.
Blair Wealth Management is a fee-only firm that adheres to strict fiduciary standards and partners with individuals, families and business owners to address their most critical challenges, identify their best opportunities, and transform their lives. Some of Mark’s community involvement includes: a monthly column, “It’s not all about money,” featured in the Main Line Media News’ Education section, as well as serving as chairman of Radnor Township’s CARFAC (Citizens Audit Review and Financial Advisory Committee). Learn more about Mark Blair and Blair Wealth Management at BlairWealthManagement.com.
Schneider, M. (June 3, 2015). A Bachelors Degree Isn’t the Only Path to Good Pay. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-bachelors-degree-isnt-the-only-path-to-good-pay-1433372775