Today there's a prevailing societal assumption that children will immediately go on to college from high school. But what if Amanda would rather become a beautician than a businesswoman? What if Mike would flourish far more as a pilot than as a doctor or a lawyer? What if Emma has shown little academic interest up to this point and isn't sure about committing the time and money to four or five more years of school?
We need to be careful that our children don't pursue college simply to please us or because "it's what everyone does." College is a step they might take into the adult world. So it's important that they actually want to attend college, that their desire to go is based on accurate expectations, and that going to college is the best way to achieve the knowledge and training needed for their future goals.
By working with their teen to objectively and realistically examine the best fit for the teenager's talents and interests, parents can help their child determine the next stepwhether it's a traditional four-year college, trade school, junior college, or some other path.
Alex Chediak (@chediak) is the author of Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World! (Tyndale House Publishers, 2011) and a professor at California Baptist University in Riverside, CA. Alex and his wife Marni have three young children.