Preparing your teen for tertiary education

Preparing your teen for tertiary education

The transition from high school to college or university is a huge step for your teen. Read on for advice on preparing her for tertiary education.

Tertiary education

Parents need to help their teen with their tertiary education planning–it’s a big step!

As your children enter their teen years, there are decisions to be made and you need to be there to help them. A key example is getting them ready for their tertiary education transition. 

They are going to be bombarded with questions about where they are going to go to school, what they are going to do with their life and a whole barrage of other things.

It’s enough to make them crazy or crazier than they already are. The question is how much should you try to influence your child’s decision? Tertiary education is a huge step.

RELATED: The price of raising children

The college question

College has come to be the ‘natural’ next step after high school. But should it be, for every child, that is? College is an absolute must for those going into any profession, but it’s not for everyone.

For those entering technical fields or some industries such as the banking industry, traditional universities or colleges aren’t always the answer.

And for others, college may not be the answer at all. Besides, in today’s world, a college education doesn’t guarantee anything. So where does place tertiary education on the priority list?

So does that mean you should allow your teen to throw college out the window? Not necessarily. Instead, help them work through their tertiary education decision-making process by discussing the following with them:

  1. What do they want to do instead of college? Do they have a job that will allow them to support themselves?
  2. Would their career choice allow for lesser schooling such as technical school or possibly even online schooling?
  3. Why don’t they want to go to college? Are their reasons valid? Reasonable?
  4. Are they prepared to meet pre-set limits for being out on their own in a productive, manner?

Following in your footsteps

Is that what you want? Are you expecting your child to follow in your footsteps by attending the same college or university, take over the family business or go into the same line of work?

The better question and the one you need to be asking is if that is what your child wants to do with their life. If so, then great. But to force, coerce or guilt your child into being someone they aren’t is unfair and isn’t helping your child make decisions. It’s bad parenting.

RELATED: Preparing your kids for exams

Helping your child make the right decisions

As a parent, it is your duty and responsibility to offer the emotional support your teenager needs and craves when making life-altering decisions.

And as far as possible, it is also your responsibility to offer physical support, as well. Preparing for the tertiary education stage can be overwhelming.

  1. Ask your teen what it is they are passionate about? What do they see themselves doing every day?
  2. What do they want to be recognised and remembered for?
  3. What scares them about their future?
  4. What excites them?
  5. Do they have a plan on how to get where they want to go? What is it? Is it feasible? How much financial help will they need from you? If that is not a possibility, where will the financing come from? Will they be equipped to pay it back?

When your input is not welcome

There are more than a few parents who will be shut out of their teen’s life during this all-important decision-making process.

There are more than a few teens who truly believe that having their parents help is of no value. If this is your situation, you are likely wondering what you should do to help your child make decisions–from afar.

Respect their wishes but don’t be used. If they want to make their own decisions, they need to be prepared to live with the consequences of those decisions and be fully independent.

Don’t bail them out. If their decisions turn out to be bad ones, they need to deal with them. You can love without rescuing.

Don’t say ‘I told you so’. Not nice–they’re feeling bad enough as it is. Dealing with tertiary education is tough enough, without parental pressure.

Be proud of their accomplishments even if they aren’t what you had in mind. Ultimately, as long as your child grows to be a happy, productive, responsible adult, that’s all any of us has the right to hope for.




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Written by

Darla Noble

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