The Highlands Company Blog

How Parents Can Help Their College-Bound Child

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How Can Parents Help?

Beth and her mother, Sharon, both wanted Beth to go to college, but they had different ideas about the kind of school and major Beth should pursue. Beth took The Highlands Ability Battery and found out that she was a “specialist-introvert” with a talent for art. Working on the school yearbook her senior year helped Beth decide that a small school where Beth could specialize quickly would be better than a large university. In addition, Beth was able to use the knowledge she gained from the ability battery to articulate her needs and talents in order to gain entry into the school of her choice.

Sharon wrote us to say, “Without The Highlands Ability Battery, I never would have supported Beth’s decision. The HAB gave me the objective, concrete information I needed to advise and guide my daughter. Now I feel confident that she will graduate in 4 years with a degree that will help her get a job that she can combine with her interests…I found that the ability battery is for the parents as much as for the child. As the ones who are paying huge amounts of money for the child’s college, the parent needs this information. It helped me gain tremendous insight into my daughter.”

Students frequently have only vague ideas for the future. They often are led more by family influence and what others consider important for them than what is really important. Parents and counselors can help students think through the process of discriminating between good ideas and unsound ideas.

Here are some tips that will help you talk to your teenager about his or her dreams:

  • Don’t rush to judgment. It’s not important that a teenager find the ideal career right now. It is more important that he or she actively try out several different ideas about careers. Students frequently change their goals as they gain more experience and insight.
  • Be suspicious of fast answers. When an answer about college or career comes too quickly, try to understand where it comes from. Has the desire to become a doctor come from real experience (working with sick people, a love of biology, family experience) or is it prompted by the notion that it’s a good way to make money?
  • Welcome complicated, half-thought-out answers. It’s easy to become frustrated when you get cloudy ideas. But be glad that you are getting something, however unclear, and try to find the source of the ideas. When did the student get interested in that? Why?
  • Encourage hands-on experience. What students experience for themselves will have 10-20 times greater impact on them than what you tell them. Encourage paid or volunteer work in areas of interest. It will help solidify good ideas and help them understand why other fields may be wrong for them.
  • Help you student pay attention to what he or she is really interested in. Interests are a clear source of passion and creativity. Help you student pursue subjects and ideas he or she finds compelling and interesting. When it comes time to choose a college or a career direction, students who have actively pursued their interests have a clear advantage.