5 Tips to Help Your Teen Plan for their Future

6 min to read
A teenage girl working on her laptop

Whether you’re a parent, Learning Coach, teacher, or school counselor, we all share a common goal: to help kids with planning for the future so they succeed in their life beyond virtual school. And not surprisingly, establishing specific goals for their adult lives while they are still in school can help teenagers remain encouraged and focused on learning well into their working years. 

Read on to learn more about the best ways to support your teen in brainstorming how to make future plans for college, career, and beyond.

Career Planning for Teens: The Earlier, the Better

Career planning is not as simple as it sounds. While your teenager may have wanted to be a doctor at seven years old, they might not be interested in medicine at all when they’re 17. Even though your teen might change their mind about future plans a few times while choosing a career, it is important that they at least have a starting point in mind to keep them heading in a forward direction.

Teens think that they have all the time in the world in high school to decide what they want to do after graduation, but the truth is, their high school years go by fast, which is why the earlier your student starts planning for the future, the better. To be sure that students make a smooth transition to college life or the job market, many high schools have made education and career planning a priority. Life planning helps them to learn about a specific industry and whether or not they have the skills to succeed in it. High school is a great time to start exploring options for future planning for teens with encouraged curiosity and minimal pressure. 

Your Role in Your Teenager’s Future-Planning

Your guidance as a parent or Learning Coach can be vital in helping your student plan for the future. Before their senior year, you might ask them what they want to do after graduation. Do they want to go right to college? Maybe take a year off and work or take up an apprenticeship? Join the military? Attend a technical or trade school? The sooner your teen decides, the sooner you both can begin taking the necessary steps to get them where they want to be.

If your teenager isn’t sure about future plans just yet, or even how to plan for the future, that’s okay. To help your student start brainstorming and coming up with ideas, ask them what subjects they like in school, what kind of impact they would like to have on the world, and what tasks they enjoy. This information can help you learn more about some possible career options for them.

Timeline for College Applications and Internships

Determining college goals is a key aspect of helping your teen with planning for the future. If your teen plans to go to a four-year university, it is vital that they understand they can’t beat around the bush until the last minute. Campus tours, applications for scholarships, and recruitment can take more time than anticipated, and it is just as important to make sure your student picks the right college for them as it is to complete their high school's graduation requirements

College admission is also highly competitive, so they need to get the admission form and all necessary paperwork in way before the deadline. This means requesting high school transcripts and recommendation letters from their teachers at the end of their junior year or beginning of their senior year. Many universities offer early admission, so start sending in the paperwork as soon as possible. 

The same goes for internships. You and your teen can research internships in a specific industry and see whether a summer, fall, spring, or year-round internship works better with their school schedule. Again, make sure you have your paperwork completed and submitted in a timely manner. 

Tips on How to Help Your Teenager Plan for the Future

1. Visit colleges and trade schools during school breaks.

Summer and winter breaks are great times for teens to think about future-planning and to research what kind of education or training they may need after high school. Visit some colleges, universities, or trade schools this summer and winter breaks to get a feel for the schools, learn more about the programs they offer, and explore the different types of campuses. 

Knowing more about what kind of school and degree program your child is excited about before applying to college can help them make the most of their time after graduating. This can also help set financial expectations for college and beyond and encourage your teen to pick up a part-time job – the best savings plan for teenagers looking to set aside money for their future plans.

2. Job-shadow a person in an interesting career.

It’s difficult to understand what it’s like to work in a particular business or industry without experiencing it first. A great way to get a clearer idea of what could be an exciting plan for the future is to see it firsthand. After doing some research on career planning for teens, encourage your teen to find what careers interest them and ask local businesses in that industry if it would be possible to schedule an afternoon of shadowing someone on the job to see firsthand what’s involved in a particular career. If they find something they are interested in, perhaps they could consider pursuing an internship in that field while still in school.

3. Volunteer in your neighborhood.

Community service is a great way to make contacts and gain valuable real-life experience. Nonprofit organizations always need help, be it visiting a nursing home for a day, cleaning up a local playground, or serving food to the needy. Your teen can help others while also gaining confidence, bolstering his or her resume, and also potentially making some decisions about planning for the future.

4. Practice presentation skills.

For everything from college admissions meetings to job interviews and board meetings, public speaking skills are key! Have your teenager build their confidence by picking a topic and doing a 10- to 15-minute presentation by reading one of their essays or a creative writing project aloud for the family. Be sure to give constructive feedback!

5. Consider the school year ahead.

Brainstorm together for ways to make the upcoming school year interesting and engaging for your high schooler. Are there new clubs and activities he or she would like to try? Are any student leadership opportunities available through school or in the community? Is an after-school job an option? Your student may also benefit from contacting his or her school counselor to discuss a plan for the future.

With more free time, fewer academic responsibilities, and these tips to get you started, this summer break may be your best opportunity to help your child research, refine, and establish goals that pave the way for a lifetime of success.

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