Any parent that has been through a matric exam with their child will be able to tell you that it’s a stressful time. Not only do parent and teen have to cope with an enormous workload, but the teen is now also expected to be able to answer the “what are you studying next year?” question posed by friends, family, teachers and everyone else they know.
While some teenagers have been preparing for this day, and know exactly where their life will take them next, many teens have no idea as to what they are supposed to do once they close their school text books for the last time. For these teens, a seemingly innocent question is the source of sleepless nights.
As a parent, you don’t want to see your child suffer – you want to help them; guide them through life’s many obstacles. And while you only mean well, you could very easily stress out your already stressed-out teen even further if the situation isn’t approached in the correct manner.
To help alleviate some of your teen’s worries, and to help them make the best choices for their future, be sure to heed the following advice:
Don’t put any pressure on them
The worst thing you can do right now is to put pressure on your teen to make life-changing choices. The first and foremost reason is that they could resent you for it. They could also decide to not make a decision, simply to spite you. An even worse alternative is that they choose a course in haste, only to regret their decision later. And unless they’re paying their own way, keep in mind that you’ll be the one who would’ve flushed thousands of Rands down the drain should they decide to drop out.
Consider career guidance
Guidance from an outside party won’t only be objective, it might also bring to light career options that neither you nor your teen has ever considered. There are a few options available to you – you could either go to any of South Africa’s universities that offer aptitude tests, or do an aptitude test online.
The alternative would be to sit with your teen to help them decide on their passion; that one thing they excel in and love to do. This might not lead to a career choice, but it will help steer them in the right direction at the very least.
Educate your teen
Have you considered that your teen is simply overwhelmed by the wealth of information at their disposal? Perhaps they are familiar with what a university, business college, university of technology or specialist school is, but they don’t know which one is right for them. Sit them down, find out what they know, then fill in the gaps. Map it out for them, so that the information is presented in bite sizes and easily digestible.
Tell them about their options
Studying isn’t the only option open to school leavers. And even if further studies is your preferred choice, you have to let your teen know there are other options. Being aware of them might be enough to free up your teen’s mind to help him or her decide on a career path.
So what are these options? Volunteering, travelling, interning and working while travelling. Some of these can be done from home; others would require flying the nest. Interning would be most helpful when trying to decide on a career, because it’s basically ‘trying out’ a career.
Whatever you do, remember that this is not your future – it is your teen’s future. It’s their dreams and aspirations. They are the only person who would need to deal with their decision in five or 10 years’ time. So keep it about them; don’t make it about you.
This advice was brought to you by Boston City Campus & Business College.