Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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How to Guide Your Teenager Toward a Career

April 25, 2017

By Jessica Vician

How to Guide Your Teenager Toward a Career | Guiding your teenager toward a career requires several steps, but can provide a glimpse into the future so that they can make good, educated choices along the way and land a great first job. | An instructor shows college students a graph on a tablet during class.

We all want our children to be successful in life, and that often includes finding a fulfilling career after school.

As your teenager nears high school graduation and considers colleges to attend, it helps to have an idea of the type of career they want to pursue. This knowledge will help them choose a college with a good program in that field and gain valuable experience in internships, extracurricular activities, and college jobs.

Guiding your teenager toward a career requires several steps, but can provide a glimpse into the future so that they can make good, educated choices along the way and land a great first job.

First, find out if your teenager already has ideas about what they want to do after high school or college.

My teen knows their future career
If they already know what they want to do after school, then follow these steps:

  1. Shadow people in the profession.
    An understanding of the daily reality for the job—not just the more glamorous overview—will help your teen determine if they really want that job or if it sounds better than it is. It also gives your teen the opportunity to ask what experience is necessary and what the career path is like, so they know how much school and/or training is required and can imagine themselves forging a long career in that field.
  2. Research college programs in your teenager’s area of interest.
    When searching programs, consider placement rate after graduation to anticipate how much help the school provides in helping students find a post-college job.

    Think about how realistic it is for your teenager to attend a school with a strong program in their desired field. For example, if you live in a landlocked state like Colorado and your teen wants to study marine biology, they will likely go to school on a coast. Can your family afford out-of-state tuition? Is your teen emotionally prepared to live far away from family?

My teen doesn’t know their future career
If your teenager doesn’t know what they want to do after high school, start having conversations about their interests to narrow down potential career options.

  1. Ask the right questions.
    In this New York Times article, a career services director encourages parents to ask the following questions]: “What skills do you have? What kinds of people do you like to work with? In what kind of environment?”

    These questions help your teen learn what they’re looking for in a career so they can explore specific options.

  2. Identify likes and dislikes.
    Ask your teenager to identify what they like and strongly dislike. That information can steer them toward or away from some careers.

    For instance, if your child is an introvert, rule out sales jobs, as they require a thick skin and an outgoing personality. If your child loves video games and has basic coding skills, explore a career in designing video or computer games.

  3. Determine strengths and weaknesses.
    What does your teen see as their biggest strength? Whether it’s a personality or academic strength, your teen knows themself and their skills best. As this Chicago Tribune article suggests, teens will make better career and school choices the more they know and understand themselves.

Even after guiding your teenager toward a career, it’s okay if they change their mind or veer off path. Those experiences will ultimately lead them to another job or career. As their parent, you don’t need to push them toward a specific industry or field. Encourage them to consider their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and narrow the list from there. It’s all part of the process of finding their own success.

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Parent Engagement in High School

November 29, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Parent Engagement in High School | Parents can facilitate discussions about a healthy lifestyle, including character, self-esteem, and relationships to help them become a well-adjusted adult and a strong candidate for college. | Two teenagers walk to class with books in tow.

High school is a big test for parent engagement. While it can be a time for parents to relax as their teenagers become more independent and take on more responsibilities, it’s also important for parents to facilitate discussions about a healthy lifestyle, including character, self-esteem, and relationships. As your teenager becomes an adult, these important skills and traits will help them become a well-adjusted adult and a strong candidate for college.

Emphasize Character
Since your teenager was a baby, he or she has learned the values and morals that are important to your family, which have shaped his or her personality and character. Now, your teenager is exposed to new ways of thinking and behaving every day. While it’s important for your teen to think for him or herself, you can reinforce those strong values and emphasize the importance of having a strong character.

For example, if your teen wants to quit a sport or a club because it’s too hard, discuss the importance of overcoming challenges and working hard. If he or she is challenging curfew, talk about responsibility. As you apply the concepts of these values to your teenager’s life, he or she will learn how his or her character influences everyday decisions.

Promote Healthy Relationships
As your teen develops stronger friendships, he or she may also start dating more seriously in high school. While you don’t have as much control over who your child dates or spends time with, you still have the power to encourage healthy relationships.

Think about what a healthy relationship means to you. Model that behavior with your parenting partner or significant other. Talk to your teenager about what makes a healthy relationship: open communication, mutual respect, trust, etc. Also discuss what makes an unhealthy relationship: constant fighting, feeling small or unimportant, and violence.

Learn to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and how to help your teen get out of it here.

Facilitate a Healthy Lifestyle
Teenagers are busy. Between school, sports, extracurriculars, and spending time with friends, it’s hard for parents to keep track of them. It’s also difficult to monitor their health, as they likely eat more meals and snacks on-the-go. Here are some tips to keeping them healthy during busy times.

  • Sit down for breakfast together every morning to ensure your teen starts the day with a nutritious meal.
  • Keep healthy grab-and-go snacks at home, like granola bars, apples, bananas, and oranges.
  • Ask your teen to sit down for a family dinner a few days a week if his or her schedule allows.
  • Take evening or weekend walks together to catch up while getting exercise.

Prepare for College
You have been and always will be an advocate for your child’s education. When it comes to preparing for college, ensure your child is taking the right steps and meeting with the right people from freshman year registration day.

  • Meet with the school counselor to determine what classes your child should take each year to qualify for college admission, including courses that count for college credit, like Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
  • Save your child’s best work for a portfolio, should he or she need it for college admission.
  • Encourage your child to get a well-rounded education by participating in extracurricular activities and clubs.
  • Stay on top of college testing deadlines, like the PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT.

You have spent your teenager’s life preparing him or her for adulthood. High school is a critical part of the race, as your child will take what he or she has learned and apply it as he or she moves toward independence. Use these best parent engagement practices to keep your teenager on track.

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Our 14 Best Back to School Tips

August 2, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Our writers and program author have over 150 years of education and parenting experience combined. From all of that expertise, we’ve gathered our best 14 back to school tips and put them in one place—right here!—so you don’t need to look any further. From starting a new school to saving money on school supplies to sending your (no longer a) baby off to college, we have you covered.

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | From starting a new school to saving money on school supplies to sending your (no longer a) baby off to college, we have you covered. | An elementary school student chooses a pack of pencils for her back to school supplies.

Starting a New School

Starting preschool, kindergarten, high school, or a new school system altogether can be stressful for some children. As parents, we must ease that transition so that their first experience in each school setting is one of comfort and excitement instead of fear and anxiety.

Here’s how you can prepare your child, depending on what new school he or she is starting:

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | "Back to School" is written on an illustrated chalkboard with paint, rulers, and assorted school supplies in the image.

Back to School Tips

For kids returning to the same school, there are a few basic things you must do before they can start, including:

Once you have checked those activities off the list, relieve some of the anticipation and pressure of the first day of school.

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | Going Away to College | A father watches his son grab his dorm supplies from the car.

Going Away to College

For teenagers heading off to college, it’s an exciting time. But for many parents and the siblings still at home, the first time a child goes off to college can be challenging. Learn how to prepare your family with these articles.

Whatever your child’s age, when you prepare him or her for school physically, emotionally, and socially, he or she will settle more easily into a successful academic routine. Use these activities to bond as a family before the transition and you’ll create happy memories before the school year begins. 

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What questions should I be asking on college visits?

June 21, 2016

By YOU Program Facilitator

What questions should I be asking on college visits? | A group of parents and students gather during a college tour to listen to the tour guide speak.

Question: My daughter will be going to college next fall, so we’re visiting schools this summer. What questions should we be asking during these college visits so that she makes the right choice?

Answer: First, your daughter should make a list of schools she would like to attend and discuss these choices with her guidance counselor. The counselor may help her narrow down her choices based on which schools offer strong programs relevant to her intended career choice, offer potential scholarships for her academic and/or extracurricular strengths, etc.

Class Size
As you research the schools, including asking questions during a visit, find out the average class size for incoming undergraduates. Think about your daughter’s learning style and evaluate whether she will succeed in that size of a class. For example, if she needs extra attention from the teacher, a large school with classes of 300 students might not be the best fit for her.

Financing
If you are concerned about financing college, meet with a financial aid counselor during your visit. Discuss work-study programs, potential scholarships, and funding options for your family.

Living Arrangements
Ask about typical living arrangements for an incoming freshman, including meal packages. Do freshman usually live in residence halls? Does the school have requirements for students to live on campus? If so, for how many years?

Visit some of the dormitories so that your daughter can see what her living situation will be like. Is it clean? Is it safe and well lit at night?

Safety
Ask about the safety measures the campus takes to protect students both during class times and after class. Your daughter needs to be safe walking to and from class and on nights and weekends when living in the dorms.

Create an agenda for your visits with a list of questions you need answered, people with whom you’d like to meet (schedule those appointments in advance), and places on and off campus you would like to see. With that agenda, you can ensure you hit all the important points while still having time for fun together as a family.

For more information on choosing a college, college admissions, and preparing for college, see the third book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set.

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The Ultimate College Prep List

February 16, 2016

By Jessica Vician

You have been practicing parent engagement techniques for a long time and your teenager is doing well in school. Great job! The next step is college and career readiness. To help you and your teen prepare, read through this list of articles from YOU Parent experts that detail what to do next.

ExamsHelp Your Student Prepare for College Entry Exams | High school students take an exam in the classroom.

Before your child can be admitted to a community college, 4-year college, or university, he or she must meet minimum grade point average (G.P.A.) and college entry exam requirements. Read the below article for study tips that will help your teen succeed on the exam(s).

Help Your Student Prepare for College Entry Exams

Choosing a SchoolHelp Your Child Choose a College | A student raises his hand in a lecture hall and the professor calls on him.

Once your child has taken the appropriate college entry exam(s), he or she can start researching and narrowing down schools to attend. Read through these tips that will guide you and your student as you choose a school.

Helping Your Child Choose a College

College Tours: Parent Engagement Activity

Choosing College: Where Your Friends Don’t Attend

AdmissionHow to write an outstanding college admissions essay.

After narrowing down his or her choices, your teen will need to apply to school. These articles explain how to succeed in the most important admission steps.

Writing an Outstanding College Admissions Essay

Finish These 4 College Application Steps

Tuition and ScholarshipsTuition costs: in-state, public, and private. | The graph illustrates the difference in cost between in-state public schools, out-of-state public schools, and private schools.

How will you or your child pay for school once he or she is admitted? These articles explain how to prepare for those costs, from choosing a lower-priced school to applying for scholarships and financial aid.

Tuition Costs: In-State, Public, and Private

5 Must-Read FAFSA Facts

Scholarship Hunting: 3 Places to Find Them

What tips have been most helpful for you and your child in preparing to go to college? Tell us in the comments below.

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