Timmy Doesn’t Have a Plan? Now What?


Pen and paper with my plan written

How to help your child prepare for life after high school

Are you pulling your hair out with a child who still doesn't have a plan? Planning for life after high school can be stressful for students and parents.  There are so many decisions our kids have to make that can have a huge impact on the rest of their lives.  Here are some tips you can use to help support them in making a post-secondary plan:

Have an honest conversation.
Be open with your children when it comes to talking about plans after high school.  The best thing you can do is be supportive and listen – like really listen. When you have this conversation don’t expect answers from them right away. Don't try to push them in a certain direction or pressure them into making a fast decision, it is perfectly normal not to know.

Make a budget and tell your kids how you can help them.
Affordability is a big factor.  Make sure you look at the overall price if they decide to go to college.  Your child might have a $20,000 scholarship which sounds really good, but not if the tuition and room and board is $60,000.  If a loan is needed, work with them to understand how much their monthly payment is, as well as their hypothetical salary and living expenses. If they choose a non-traditional route look at how much the pay is starting off and after working in the field for a while. If you can be clear on where you can and can’t help them financially it can help take the emotion out of the decision-making process.

What are their reasons?
There are a lot of factors that can influence an 18-year old on what to do after high school. College decisions should not be based on where their friends or boyfriend are going.  In fact, they should go to the freshman seminar and get involved in extracurricular activities to meet new people. That’s one of the best things about going to college!  Make sure that they are pursing a degree or program that they're actually interested in.  If they think they might want to go into nursing make sure that school has a nursing program.  Encourage them not to pick a pathway based off of money and job demand alone. It’s important to make sure their personality is a good fit for the type of work they will be doing and it’s something (for the most part) they enjoy. See the article "5 things to do when they don’t know what they want to do" for more information on finding the right career field to pursue.

What needs to happen next?
Find out what the next steps are to attend college and assist them with it but, don't do it for them.  First narrow your search down to three to five colleges and tour the campuses to make sure it's a good fit for you.  You don’t want to be the mom who drives her son seven hours to a college that they never visited for his freshman year. The mom who unloads everything into a dorm only to have her son freak out and reloaded everything back into the car and drove him back home the same day.  This happens.  This is why it is so important to tour the colleges of interest.

If they choose to enter the workforce, explore different apprentices and job opportunities with them.  Help them find something that they're interested in and can see themselves doing for the rest of their lives.

Still undecided? Bay is the way.
Every student’s pathway is unique, but Bay is truly a wonderful option for undecided students.  Being undecided in a sea full of people makes it much harder to make a decision.  For most programs, the first two-years are general classes which can be taken anywhere.

One example Laura Moloney, the previous Director of Student Services at Bay College West shared, “A really smart student wanted to become a respiratory therapist.  She saw a bunch of job openings in the newspaper so she knew she could get one right away.  It was her last semester here of completing an associates of science and she was prepping to transfer. She was at her final advising appointment with me and expressed she didn’t feel positive that this is what she wanted to do. I told her to job shadow and so she did at the hospital.  Afterwards, she called me crying because she hated it.  I was able to drive her in the right direction and she still had a good background for medical science that can transfer for many programs.”

At Bay it's easy to make connections with faculty and staff. The small class sizes allow for more questions and one-on-one learning.  Students are able to save while they search. Plus, it gives students more time to think about going to a bigger university while still progressing. At Bay the advisors are here to listen to you and help you be in a position to succeed.

If you’re interested in meeting with a Bay College advisor call 906-302-3000 to set up an appointment. We’d love to learn more about your goals and how we can help you achieve them.