How many times have you been asked "So, what do/did you want to do when you grow up?" I used to always answer (as a woman in my 20,s, 30's, 40's), "I don't know. I'm still trying to figure that out." How many of you feel the same way? Are you still trying to figure out what you're going to be when "you grow up"?
I find that most adults still are searching for their purpose and passion in life. How is it fair, then, that we expect our children (ages 16-18) to know what they want to do and have an idea of what they want to major in when they go off to college? Fortunately, for me, my son knew from the age of five that he wanted to help people in some way, either in search and rescue or as a paramedic and his vision never changed throughout the years. That made it easier for us to tailor his education around his passions. But it is very rare that you find a child who knows from the beginning what it is they are passionate about and what they want to focus their life goals around.
So to help you out, I have a few suggestions your student can incorporate into his schooling and some questions to reflect on (and these may even help you out as well!):
1. Explore your career options by shadowing people in real jobs- find a profession you think you may be interested in and see if you can job shadow someone for a few days or weeks to get a feel for it. Ask questions and interview people. Find out the pros and cons of the positions. If you can't physically meet up or follow someone, try out the site "virtual job shadow" by seeking career direction through computer interactive tools.
2. Pull out some college course catalogues and look through the variety of classes offered. See which ones spark an interest. If you could do it all over again, what would you study this time? Circle the ones that sound interesting to you. Cross out the ones that look boring. Do you see a pattern?
3. Make a list of what you would do if money were no object and you could quit doing all your "musts" and begin doing what you want to do. Don't think about it, just write. Now look back on what you wrote. Does anything stand out to you?
4. Who's career do you envy? Find out all about that field and how that person got to be where they are today.
5. Ask others what they see in you. Sometimes outsiders can see things in us that we are blind to.
6. Go online and take an assessment. There are so many free assessments available from finding your passion to discovering your spiritual gifts. Take a couple.
Below are some probing questions to ask your children (or yourself) that may help you discover what their passions are:
1. What is important to you? What gives you a feeling of purpose?
2. What did you love to do as a child?
3. Where and when do you feel the most joyful and happy?
4. If you could do anything in the world without worrying about time, money, or restrictions, what would you do?
5. Where does your mind drift when you daydream?
6. What do you do most naturally, with effortless ease?
7. What things make you curious?
8. What are you doing when you lose track of time?
9. What do you look forward to that gives you joyful anticipation?
10. What challenges you and makes your heart skip a beat?
11. What subjects to you like to research and talk about a lot?
12. What accomplishments in your life make you proud?
13. What is a priority to you?
14. What energizes you versus what drains you?
15. What do you value most in other people and yourself?
Some great advice I got years ago:
Allow your children to dream, find an activity they love to do, and run with it! Set achievable goals and applaud each success. Challenge them to try to go farther a little more each day. Concentrate on their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses. Learn from others but don't compare yourself to others. Use failure as motivation. And, finally share your talents with others.
If you spend some time with your children figuring out what it is that they have a real interest or passion in, you can steer them in that direction, whether it's through a trade school, getting their certification, or figuring out a major for college. It could very well save you time and money in the long run. As I have said before, most students change their major at least once in college, adding more years (and tuition costs) to their college career. You can prevent that altogether by doing a little "homework" ahead of time.
And if you want to really save money and time, don't forget that your student can choose to get his degree "College Out of the Box" way. He can get his degree in less time, for less money, and with NO student debt and then spend the rest of his life following his passions wherever they lead him!!