January 22, 2018

Finding A Career Path – Helping Your Teen

I raised three children and just as God planned it, they were all interested in following different paths for their lives. We have to remember that one of our most important jobs as a homeschooling family is to help our teens with finding a career path.

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Okay. You probably don’t have to have a career path picked out quite this early…

My oldest, lovingly called “the nerd” by her siblings, graduated from college with her Master’s degree and is in management in the corporate world.

My second daughter is the “creative child” and her interests have always been in the artistic field. My house is covered with many of her creations. When she graduated high school, she attended a cosmetology school and now owns her own salon, practicing her craft with wild success.

My son is the outdoor, hands-on guy who would eventually like to run his own business as well. So, rather than pursue a degree, he only took focused courses, pursuing a Technical Certificate in Business Management and is currently working full time.

Obviously, using a cookie-cutter approach for college preparation did not work in my household and I doubt it will in yours either. Here are the steps we followed to prepare each of our children to pursue their post-high school dreams.

The college-bound academic route:

  • Take solid core academic courses.
  • Include extra academic courses in the field you wish to pursue
  • Consider taking AP courses and the AP exams. See FLVS and The Collegeboard for more info.
  • Maintain a good GPA – greater than 3.0 in your academics and in your intended field
  • Consider taking dual enrollment courses to get a jump on college credits
  • Look at taking CLEP exams
  • Take an SAT or ACT by the middle of 10th grade to obtain a base score
  • Work to improve your SAT/ACT scores – the goal being to have your best scores by the end of 11th grade
  • Research and visit colleges in your junior year
  • Start researching and applying for scholarships no later than your junior year
  • Prepare your transcript
  • Apply for colleges early in your senior year
  • Maintain an academically strong senior schedule
  • Complete the FAFSA, the Florida Student Financial Aid application and Bright Futures paperwork

The vocational/technical school route:

  • Take your core academic courses
  • Pursue electives in the field you are interested in (or ones that support your field of interest)
  • Look into high-school jobs or internships in your chosen field
  • Visit vocational schools in your junior year – know their entrance requirements
  • Generally less strenuous academic requirements – may need to pass an interview or some other entrance exam. Our daughter had to submit a video biography as part of her application process.
  • Apply by mid-senior year (or within the school’s application time frame)
  • Some schools want a high school transcript – some only wish to see a diploma.
  • Research and apply for scholarships – Bright Futures is available for many vocational schools in Florida – beware of the difference in tuition. Vocational schools can be more expensive than public universities.Complete the FAFSA, the Florida Student Financial Aid application and Bright Futures paperwork in your senior year

The straight-to-the-job or entrepreneurial route:

  • Complete your high school education. This is IMPORTANT. Do what it takes to finish.
  • Take a high school job that has room for training and advancement – be sure it is in a field you enjoy.
  • Take an internship or look for a mentor in your field.
  • Take all training courses offered by your employer.
  • Take individual vocational courses – local colleges are a gold mine, offering myriads of training classes.
  • Know the risks of entrepreneurialship and don’t be afraid to fail.

I realize that not all of our kids know what they want to be when they “grow up”. But I encourage you, as parents, to help your student begin the research process by their junior year in high school. Visit school websites, look at job fields, seriously discuss how your student can transfer their interests into a career and help them start on that path. Be your child’s coach and put them in the game – then be their biggest cheerleader!

~to your success

Joanne

Image courtesy of Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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