How Parents Can Help with College & Career Planning

Last updated on April 22nd, 2023 at 08:25 pm

As a new parent, you knew this day was coming, but you might not have anticipated how quickly it would arrive. Your child is no longer a child. Soon, they’ll be graduating from high school (if they haven’t already). Not long after that, they’ll be ready to leave the nest. How will you help with college & career planning is important on the next steps in their lives.

But this transition doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take some planning, preparation, and adjusting – for you, and for your child. How can you support them in taking some of the most significant steps in their lives?

There are plenty of things you can do. Let’s cover just a few of the most important ways you, as a parent, can help your child as they get ready to gain a whole lot more independence.

How Parents Can Help with College & Career Planning

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This is a big one, so let’s tackle it first. Often one of the biggest questions that comes up in the process of planning for higher education is, “How are we going to pay for this?” Most of the time, college isn’t paid for using just one method. It’s usually a combination of efforts from various people and over a long period of time – usually, extending past the education itself.

How parents can contribute

Plan ahead with your finances. Instead of just throwing money into a savings account, put it somewhere where it can grow and build upon itself, like investing in stocks or a business. The future of your finances is too important to let your savings just sit and gather dust.

You could also use these hacks for parents to help pay for college such as a 529 college savings plan, Parent PLUS loans, or private loans. Every penny gained with help with college & starting a career for them.

Teach your child money management skills

Communicate about whether you can or can’t realistically contribute and how much you can offer. Help your child make a plan to pay off their education, including filling out their FAFSA to be considered for federal financial aid. Encourage them to apply for scholarships – as many as they can. The more they try for, the better their chances of receiving an award.

Teach your child to track their daily expenses and keep a budget. They’ll also need to decide if they will work their way through school. If they need a boost, you can help them initiate the process of applying to jobs and preparing for interviews. 

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After your child graduates from high school, they are about to embark on a journey of becoming an adult and gaining their independence. They need your help to prepare them for these big changes that are happening.

College decisions

There are plenty of decisions students and parents can collaborate on in preparation for college. Besides financial decisions, they’ll also need to determine which college to enroll in, where to live, what to use for transportation (bring the car or get a bus pass?), and what major to move forward with. Your child could also probably use some help with preparing to move out.

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Career decisions

When it comes to career planning, guide your child through the steps of coming to a decision. Even if they change their mind down the road, at least they’ll have a starting point to get moving on their education. Getting going in some specific direction will help them determine if they want to stay the course or change it.

To start the process, help your child list out their talents and interests. One way to do this is for them to take a career assessment test. Identify careers that suit their strengths, and then learn more about those occupations, such as education requirements, salary, and typical schedule. They might even job shadow or interview someone in their field of interest. Finally, have them narrow down their list, and then make a plan for the education that will lead up to their chosen career field.

Emotional Support

Your student could also use your support with maintaining well-being as they navigate the world as an adult. This includes all areas of life – physical, mental, social, emotional, financial, and academic.

You might guide your child to know where to turn for help in the situations that arise, as you’re likely not directly available to help with many problems. Fortunately, most campuses have plenty of resources to help students through various struggles – health centers, tutoring, counseling services, financial aid, etc.

It may help to figure out boundaries of what you, as the parent, can reasonably help with, and what you can’t. Of course, you don’t want to coddle your child. But build their self-esteem to handle these new challenges on their own. This is a big change for both of you – empower your child to face their new challenges with foresight and resilience as they head out on their own.


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