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5 Ways to help your child plan ahead

Feel like your child has no direction? Let Barbara Cooke, author of “Parent’s Guide to College and Careers: How to Help, Not Hover” give you a few pointers:

Feel like your child has no direction? Let Barbara Cooke, author of “Parent’s Guide to College and Careers: How to Help, Not Hover” give you a few pointers:

Consider the difference between guidance and control. Guidance is helping your child identify strengths and connect those strengths to opportunities in the economy. Control is dictating your child’s career choice. Guidance is helping them get firsthand information about opportunities. Control is doing the research yourself. Guidance is saying, “I want you to talk to two engineers before you reject an engineering major.” Control is saying, “I won’t pay for college unless you major in engineering.”

Take the pressure off the process of career-planning. Help your child separate career information-gathering from career decision-making. All you are asking your child to do at this point is to gather information. You are not asking him or her to make a decision based on that information. Encourage your child to act as an objective journalist who is conducting research, interviewing people and observing work environments.

Have your child complete a career-interest inventory. This is an online questionnaire that helps identify the pattern of your interests. Your child would answer a series of questions about school subjects, activities, occupations of interest and other preferences. He or she will then receive a report that includes a list of job titles that connect to their interests and abilities.

Direct your child to print and online resources. A wealth of materials online, in libraries and in bookstores can help your child discover and learn about hundreds of careers. From information about a job’s earnings and education requirements to its projected growth and average annual openings, these can answer key questions you may not know the answer to or that your child may not have thought to ask.

Informal talks. Consider family, friends or colleagues who have experience in a career field that interests your child. Help your child arrange a meeting with these people to gather information about that person’s daily work tasks, background, likes, dislikes and suggestions for entering the field.

 
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