I remember my very first vision board. In April of that year, my son was admitted to the hospital at only 7 months old, and I was having my own health problems that would just have to wait. Thankfully we were at the hospital for only 3 days. By the time we got home I was exhausted. I had just spent three sleepless nights in a hospital so worried about my son.
As I stood there taking it all in my eyes landed on my vision board. Nothing on my vision board was in motion. How could it with everything happening in my life? I decided to forget about the vision board. I’m not sure why I didn’t take it down. I think maybe it’s because I was so done with it I didn’t even bother to move it.
Cut to October...
That text came from the mom of a client of mine. She was so surprised to get a seemingly random text from her daughter asking to start a retirement account, but it wasn’t random. Her daughter was in our coaching session when she sent it.
She had gone through the first two modules of Life Quest which helped her name her values and solidify her priorities. Just before the career exploration module comes the money module. Ava learned that week about how compound interest works and what it looks like in a retirement account. She learned that the earlier you start the better. Taking just a fraction of what she makes with a high school job and putting it into an account can have a big impact later on.
You might have heard that teens don’t have the same capacity for future-thinking as adults do. However, delivering knowledge in just the right way, a teen can think about their future more than we might give them credit for.
My client, a senior, knew what she wanted to do, but when this pandemic hit, she started questioning everything. Will she even be able to go to college after she graduates? Should she continue with her chosen major or is it changing too much leaving no jobs for her? What will her future look like?
She went from excited about her life to anxious and unsure. She was so at a loss, so overwhelmed, she would barely talk to her parents.
That is until her parents found the Life Quest program. Rather than being stuck not knowing what life would look like after high school, she now has multiple paths that she is excited about. With the program and our coaching, she has thoroughly explored how to monetize her passions even during or after a pandemic. She even has things she can start doing right away to get things in motion. And she has a game plan for her next steps in spite of how crazy the world is right now. She said:
Teens don't have to step into their future just figuring things out as they go. You can give them the tools and skills to be prepared for whatever comes.
"What am I going to do??"
I was crying on my husband’s shoulder as he held me, standing in the kitchen. I was so scared.
I finally admitted to myself that I just couldn’t continue the career I had been pursuing. It was the career I wanted ever since I was a child, but after almost a decade I was miserable. Leaving it, however, was so scary to me. I didn’t know what else I could do. I didn’t know what other value I could bring to the world.
Did you know that there are 7 ways to continue your education after high school?? Most people think there are two options: college or nothing. The 7 options I cover with my clients are all ways to continue education, so this does include university but it does not include going straight away into work. Working is a choice, of course, but I want to focus on the fact that there are 6 other ways of educating yourself after high school. Before we jump in, there are a few things I want you to know.
1. Let’s start with the most well known:
I often tell my clients to imagine themselves 10 years from now. Then I ask them, "what does your life look like?" Typically, I get canned responses, which, of course, we dissect to get to real answers. A common canned response is “to be successful.” … what does that mean?
Actually think about that for a moment; what does it mean to you to be successful? Why is that your definition? Do you think your teen has the same definition?
When it comes to helping young people reach success I’ve heard all kinds of advice including:
“Go to college and get a job.” This suggests that if you go to college you are essentially guaranteed a well-paying job that will provide financial freedom.
I’ve also heard “Follow your dreams and pursue your passions.” This suggests that those seeking only financial success are living unfulfilled lives; only in making a job of your passions will you be happy.
While these two pieces of advice may seem like opposites, they do have something in common. They both suggest that what you do for a living is the main measure of success. Whether what you do brings you money or passion, it tends to be our professions that define us.
Here's the thing...
“How can kids prepare for jobs that don’t exist yet?”
I was stumped.
After working in admissions at a university and then conducting college and career workshops in high schools all across my state, I thought I could answer anything.
But when a teacher asked me that one, I admit I was taken aback. How had I not considered this? Especially when you think about how rapidly jobs are changing. For example, if 15 years ago someone told you that students would grow up to become Social Media Marketing Managers would you have known what they were talking about?
So, I went home and immediately began researching the answer to that question. Not only did it become a chapter in my book, but it was also the seed that sparked my entire book.
What I concluded is this: we need to cultivate skills and character traits that allow for adaptability.
Did you know that...
More and more high school graduates are choosing to take a year off after high school and before college. Even college students sometimes choose to take a leave of absence. So the question I get from many families is how to make the most of this time.
I’m so glad they ask! Many parents are worried that the year will be wasted time. But, if used wisely, this extra year can be transformational! So, I have put together a guide for making the most of this time.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of taking a year off. If you’ve already decided, scroll down for tips to make the most of the year.
The Benefits of a Gap Year
I recently talked with a mom who has a son that knows exactly what his interests are, what he’s really good at, and that he wants to travel right after high school.
I said, “That’s great! And then what?”
“Oh, he’ll probably go to college.”
“Cool! What’s he going to major in?”
“He doesn’t know.”
“Ok, what kind of work does he want to do?”
“He doesn’t know.”
This is very common. I often hear from parents, “My teen knows what they are interested in, but they don’t know how to turn it into a career, and it’s an area of interest I know nothing about!”
When it comes to racial injustice, I am no expert. It will be a constant journey of educating myself, growing from what I learn, and teaching my children as best I can.
In spite of my shortcomings, I wanted to find a way to help parents whose families are struggling as we watch what's unfolding this week. So, I found people who know better than I do and gathered resources that might be helpful to you.
It’s always a good idea, before you spend lots of time and/or money investing in a career, to do your research on the profession to make sure it is a good fit for you. There are a few ways I provide this opportunity to the young people I work with. One of which, I wanted to share with you today.
The podcast All Things College and Career, was created with the goal to provide a resource for all people that are researching careers, colleges, or academic majors.
Have your summer plans been upended? Because of this pandemic, many parents have recently expressed uncertainty about what to do with their kids all summer, while others are concerned about their teens' missing out on activities that strengthen college applications.
Although this summer vacation may not include volunteering or a typical summer job, it can still be a time for fostering self-discovery, growth, and independence. Check out these five ways that you and your teen can make the most of this summer.
Education today looks much different than it did a few short months ago. Many high-schoolers are sitting alone behind computers, instead of in classrooms filled with peers. We've been forced to rethink education. We've had to throw out the easy answers, the assumptions about "how things have always been."
This environment offers the perfect opportunity to question everything and really figure out what's right for every child. Some kids will be perfectly happy (and compliant) with online learning. Others might do better with hands-on activities, which require a bit more creativity and patience from parents. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to education.
So why do we still take a one-size-fits-all approach to students after high-school graduation? We often assume that the natural path is to go on to a four-year university. But is that truly the right path for everyone?
Most of us have received the news that our kids won't be returning to school this year. This is jarring and upsetting for all of us, but especially for Seniors and their families. Graduating is a significant transition and there is often some grieving that takes place. Celebrating the milestones that happen during the spring semester of a senior year help make the grieving process more sweet than bitter. So to have Prom, Graduation, and for some, Birthday celebrations taken away makes the jarring end of the school year that much harder for seniors.
Regardless of the pandemic, these milestones deserve to be celebrated! I gathered some resources to help your family find ways to make these milestones special in spite of the quarantine.
Can you imagine your child getting to college, investing all that time and money for a few semesters, and then dropping out? A third of those who enter college will drop out. A third will finish in four years, and a third will finish in 6 years.
Students do not leave college “just because.” So, today I wanted to talk about the top reasons why students drop out and what you can do to help your child succeed.
Can you imagine your teen pursuing their future with drive and excitement? Can you imagine knowing that the path they chose will not only lead to a thriving life of financial security but also a life of fulfillment? For so many young people this isn’t the case.
Many teens get to graduation and just pick a school or a major because it’s what they are “supposed to” do, it’ll make them good money, or it’s what everyone else is doing. But there’s no purpose other than that and there’s no excitement for their future. Some get to graduation without making any decision at all.
This can lead to them feeling aimless in life, wandering through it hoping they will stumble upon their passion. These young people can often feel purposeless which can lead to depression or negative habits. They are often unmotivated, anxious, and sometimes angry. Or maybe it will lead to changing majors, which will cost time and lots of money for both them and you.
What can you do?
The good news is, all of this can be avoided! It is possible for your teen to craft their own unique definition of success that they are excited about. They can find occupations that are uniquely suited to who they are and what they value and then start taking the steps towards them with direction and purpose.
College is expensive! So, of course we all want to do our best to save some money. Most people look for ways to reduce costs, which you know I am all about.
What most don't realize is that many students have been blindsided with unexpected, surprise college costs that get added on top of what they were expecting.
You read that right...
Thousands of students get blindsided by $25,000, $50,000 or more on top of what they were already expecting to pay. For some, this has resulted in more loans and more debt. For others, this leads to dropping out. As a matter of fact, when college dropouts were surveyed, the number one reason for not completing their degree was costs.
Over the past few decades we’ve seen a doubling of the suicide rate among young people ages 15-24, a quadrupling of the suicide rate in children ages 15 and under, and five to eight times as many children suffering from major depression or a clinically significant anxiety disorder. Our current education system does not properly help students learn or practice the elements that lead to a physically or emotionally healthy life. The system even prevents it in a few different ways.
The success of a school shouldn't be measured by test scores. It is more important that students are able to manage their inner world, relate to their outer world, and find their place in the world. My research lead me to write the book, "What's the Point of School? Ed Transformation: A Matter of Life and Death." In this book I go into more detail about the history of public education and how it came to be designed the way that it is. I also go into detail about why it is to the detriment of our kids' well-beings if we continue with this Industrial design. The good news is that I also researched what we can do about it.
“What’s the Point of School?” outlines the Five Happy Healthy Elements that will guide students to becoming citizens who know themselves, know their communities, and know how to create a fulfilling and happy life based on their interests and skills. I suggest a starting point for a redesign of the system that will transform education for a thriving generation. I discuss a new way to view and talk about education that puts student well-being at the top of the priority list.
Yes, it may take a while for a complete transformation of our education system to happen. But you can get started in your own home today. You can ensure your kids lead thriving lives by following the Five Happy Healthy Elements. Below you'll find tips to get started, but first, let me introduce the Five Happy Healthy Elements to you.
Think back to 20 years, or even just 15 years ago. If someone told you that many students would go on to have jobs in social media marketing, would you have understood what that meant or how important a role they would be playing? How do we prepare kids for jobs in a future that we can’t predict? In contemplating this question there are a few things one would need to consider.
Education truly is the key to a better future for the world. But not in it’s current state. There are people and organizations doing wonderful things for education reform right now. Lots of things are happening towards influencing policy makers for change. However, we aren’t all necessarily on the same page. A very similar page perhaps, but not quite the same. Also, when people are so deeply inside a system it can be difficult to think outside the box. For example, let’s say the telephone didn’t change from 100 years ago. Then we ask Apple to apply the same kinds of tools and software of their iPhones to the same piece of hardware from 100 years ago. It would be a challenge and not the best option for our needs. I feel like that is what we are doing with our education system. The classroom has not changed in more than 100 years. We are trying with all our might to make it better, yet we are keeping the same structure for a society, economy, and technologies that don’t apply anymore. On top of all of this you have a system that takes quite a long time to make change. So, what do we do about it? I want to address both of these concerns.
This is a two part article. In this first part we will take a look at how we reimagine a system that truly works for our current society, the longterm. Then, in part two we discuss how to make this happen in a more timely fashion, the short term.
Last week, in part one of this article, we discussed a new goal for our education system, and we envisioned futures if we accomplish it. However, the question remains, “what do we do about it now?” Right now, parents are worried about their kids who are stressing about standardized test starting at age six. And teachers are not even able to do what they got into the profession for in the first place because their hands are tied with standards and regulations. What do we do for the kids who are there now?
“The most damaging phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way!’” - Grace Hopper
Why do we bother to go to school as children? What's the point of it? In other words, what is the goal of our education system?
There is little argument against education reform. No one would say we shouldn't make things better. However, when a system is relatively unchanged for more than a hundred years it can be very hard to “think outside the box.” There have been lots of changes within the system over the past several decades, but we need to reimagine the structure all together. Cars have drastically changed in the past century, phones are unrecognizable from a hundred hears ago. Yet, the classroom remains relatively the same.
PBS says the purpose of school is to prepare children for citizenship, cultivate a skilled workforce, and allow students to compete in a global marketplace. Consider for a moment if this is truly the goal and if our system is accomplishing this goal. If you were to ask a student today what they perceive the goal to be, would this be their answer? I decided to ask current high school students what they think the purpose of school is. So, I conducted a survey and was shocked at what they had to say. Here are just a few of their responses:
Many people agree that education transformation needs to take place. Many agree that we need to change the way we teach and the way we treat our teachers. My work strives to add a unifying goal to this movement. We need to change the reason why we go to school. Rather than testing, standardization, and college attendance, the goal should be...