It’s common for teens to change their minds about…well, everything.
And when it comes to making the “right” decision about what they want to do after college or about college majors, we’re getting into tricky territory.
And doesn’t that make sense?
We’re asking our 17-to-18 year-olds to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. And, with the way that technology is advancing, it’s likely that the jobs that’ll be available in the future for them haven’t even been invented yet.
Lots of students change their minds about what they want to study in college after they get there and dig into the material and variety of courses available. In fact, about 30% of students in the U.S. end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And one in ten of those end up changing majors twice.
But my kid?
She just changed her mind about her entire path forward.
Last month, my graduating senior was making a list of the items she needed for her residence hall move-in this August at her dream school. Now, she’s decided to instead become an airline pilot.
This, my friend, is a pretty substantial change. A whole new set of post-secondary rules.
While we’re so very thrilled that she’s understanding her passions and following them, we just submitted a deposit for the college she anticipated attending. I mean, come on.
Now we’re scrambling to figure out how to help her move forward to achieve this new goal: Where can she go to flight school? Where can she also attend college? How many flight hours will she need? Which state will she be living in? How long will it take? How much money are we spending on flight school and a college degree? What’s the most practical, efficient and economical path for this?
In all honesty, we’re laughing about the timing of it all. I’ve learned that staying lighthearted over big changes like this makes things So. Much. Easier.
So today, I’m writing this post to share a few “mindset” tips to stay sane and composed when changes like this happen.
Because you know they will.
Relax and EXPECT change.
As parents, we tend to get all bound up in worry and fear about the decisions our teens make. I know this because I’m Culprit #1 with my own girls.
Change happens. All the time. And I don’t have to tell you that stressing out about it doesn’t actually help anything.
If we can train ourselves to expect that change will happen, it won’t take us by surprise and knock us over when it occurs. Remember that your teen is figuring things out, and that your positivity and laid back response will serve to support your teenager rather than intensify the angst.
Trust your teen.
We need to understand that our kids are growing up and there’s an infinite number of choices and decisions they’ll be making on their own in life. While we can (and should) give guidance, their path is ultimately up to them. Trust is essential.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all feel comfortable telling our children, “I don’t get to choose for you. You get to choose for you. And I know enough about you to know that you’ll make the right choices for yourself.”
It’s all about learning and growing, right?
Realize the benefits.
If your kid ends up making different choices than planned, embrace it.
Isn’t it great to know that he’s exploring and not settling into something he isn’t passionate about? If achievement, pursuing passions and finding happiness are values your family holds, then this is exactly what your teen’s working toward.
Be proud of who your teenager is becoming. Know that making these decisions shows independence and drive.
As I write this, my daughter’s 10,000 feet in the air, taking an introductory flight at a local airport to see how it feels to be in the cockpit. We’re embracing it.
Life has shown me that there are choices in everything. Let your kid explore what’s important to him. (In the most economical, practical way possible, of course.) And feel comfortable and secure in the belief that things will turn out just fine.
If your teen isn’t sure about the “right” path after high school, download the What’s Your Passion? worksheet. Take some time to have a light conversation with your teen, asking the questions you find in this guide, to help uncover interests and passions to help move forward in a meaningful way.
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