“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” - Henry Ford

Students need help when it comes to making choices about their studies and career and parents need to play their part in their children’s futures. However, it’s never easy getting involved as a parent, especially by the time they're teenagers. Similarly, getting involved doesn’t mean pushing your dreams onto your child.

To help you get it right, here are 10 mistakes to avoid when helping your child make decisions about their future.

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Ignoring Your Child’s Schooling

The first mistake to avoid is thinking that your child’s education is none of your concern. Of course, what they choose to do is their choice but this is a personal choice that can’t be taken lightly and it's your role as a parent to guarantee the best future for them. After all, that's what you've been doing their whole lives.

However, a teenager needs to feel supported by their parents during this part of their life. The parents need to play the most important support role in all this, not a career counsellor or psychologist.

Remember that it can be difficult for teenagers to think about what they want to be doing in 5 or 10 years.

Your role as a parent is to help them discover the job market by talking to them about your experience, taking them to open days, and helping them find resources to help them decide. Career exploration is a good way to discover the world of work, establish a career path, and work out which is the best career for them.

Keep in mind that your child's future isn't just the teachers' responsibility. To be fair, most teachers will have hundreds of students to take care of and they'll tell you that children whose parents take an interest in their schooling tend to do better than those that don't.

Believing a Good Student Doesn’t Need Guidance

Just because your child’s doing well at school, it doesn’t mean that they know exactly what they want to do in their career. What you have to do in school is worlds apart from what you have to do at work and you need more than just good grades to succeed.

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What are the benefits of academic appraisals?
Even good students can benefit from academic guidance. (Source: ludi)

Additionally, a student can be getting good grades and still not know what they want to do next. Academic and school guidance isn’t just a way to help struggling students get better grades, it's there to help them get the most out of their education.

Every student needs help with making the right choices for their career. Just because a child is getting good results, that doesn't mean that they know anything about job search strategies, have made any career choices, or are even thinking about their future career will be.

Ignoring Your Child’s Results

Results at school will usually dictate whether or not you get onto a university course. Most teachers have so many students that it’s difficult for them to give each student the time they deserve and help them decide what they’re going to do in the future. Even though this isn’t the only thing to take into account, exam results are essential for certain careers.

What should my child do for a career?
Don't base your decisions entirely on your child's exam results, though. (Source: F1Digitals)

Would your child like to become a doctor but is struggling with biology?

If they’re determined, they can turn things around with private tutorials. However, if they can’t turn things around, they’re more likely to give up. Some universities demand great results over several years since every one of their applicants might have straight As in their A-Levels.

Not Taking Your Child’s Personality into Account

Of course, grades aren’t everything. Good students are often expected to take their studies as far as they can go. Things are starting to change, but generally, it seems like students have one of two choices:

  • Students with good grades study A Levels, an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, a doctorate, etc.
  • Students with poor grades leave school with no formal qualifications or study vocational qualifications.

We need to move away from these stereotypes.

Firstly, students with degrees are less likely to find work than ever before. Additionally, good students can get a vocation.

Take their personality into account. Some students love school and studies while others would rather get out of school as quickly as possible. Ignoring their personality type is a quick way to lead them down the wrong career pathways. Fortunately, there are loads of career tests that consider personality traits.

Not Listening to What They Want

In addition to the student’s personality, you also need to think about what they want. It can sometimes be difficult not to impose your hopes and dreams onto your child. However, you can't make the choice or completely reject their ideas.

Do you like drawing and would like to make a career out of that?

Instead of rejecting their ideas and saying that there are no opportunities in the arts, have a look at careers that use these skills like an architect or graphic designer.

Do they just want to dance?

Show them some of the alternatives and encourage them to research what else they can do in case of injury, for example. A career transition may be necessary further down the line.

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Be Adamant that They Have to Go to University

Wanting your child to go to university at any cost is not the right way to go about things for many reasons:

  • You run the risk of complicating things if they’re not interested in it at all.
  • They may go just to keep you happy and end up getting nothing out of their studies and changing careers later on.
  • Degrees don’t always lead to jobs, either.

Their success in school will depend greatly on how much they get out of it. Academia isn’t for everyone, after all.

Should my child go to university?
University isn't essential for a lot of good careers. (Source: Free-Photos)

Not Thinking About Your Child’s Academic Choices

Your child will have to make their first major decision during their GCSEs but this isn’t why you’ll need to think about their choices. You need to give your child time and space to think about what they want to do and the best options for them. You can get them thinking about their future as early as Year 7.

Later on, you can show them useful sites and resources, take them to university open days, and help them to meet professionals in the fields they’re interested in through work experience or internships.

By the time they have to pick their GCSEs, they should have a better idea of what they might be interested in. Once they’ve finished their GCSEs, they should know what steps they’ll have to take to get the career of their dreams.

Stressing Out About Your Child’s Choices

It can be worrying for parents seeing their children lost, but you can’t pass these concerns onto your child. Trust that your child will find their way. Remember that you can always change your mind later. You can resit exams, change courses, and even change careers if necessary.

Remember that we don’t even know what half the jobs of the future will be. There’s a high chance that a certain line of work doesn't even exist yet and that they may change careers once it does. Your role is to point them in the right direction rather than stressing out about a lack of it.

Think about your own time at school. You’ve probably made mistakes, changed your mind, changed jobs, or even changed careers.

Thinking that Career Counselling is Pointless

To work out what your child is good at, it might be a good idea to look for some help. You might have bad memories of meeting with your tutor or career counsellor, but there are alternatives.

There are services to help students decide what to do, find the training they’ll need, and work out who they are and what they should be doing with their lives. An academic appraisal or aptitude test could help a student see what their strengths and weaknesses are and point them in the right direction.

Getting Biased Career Advice

Before you get educational guidance for your child, make sure that they’re either independent or unbiased. A biased advisor may not be giving your child the best information for their future.

How can you set goals for your child?
One person's goals may not be your own or, more importantly, your child's. (Source: TeroVesalainen)

There are many good career guidance services and there are also many great career counsellors and career coaching tutors. Check their qualifications, their reputation, and their experience first. You might want to interview them before hiring them.

Now that you know what to avoid, you can help your child make the right choices in school. The rest is up to you. Help them work out their career options, what career they're interested in, and even consider taking them to career fairs or job fairs!

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