When you were a teen, chances are your parents expected you to go to university or college. For many baby boomers, life was laid out like this: school; higher education; career; retirement with pension.
Today’s job market is much more complicated to navigate than the job markets of the 20th century, and as a result, the decision to send your teen to university is not so clear.
A degree may not get them a job in their desired field, and they may end up spending four years on a sequestered campus when they could have been building a solid CV.
Furthermore, with the economy in constant turmoil and university being so expensive, you may consider finding an alternative way to support your child’s flight from the nest on a more reasonable budget.
If your teen aspires to be a lawyer, doctor, or marine biologist, then it is obviously reasonable to send them to university.
If, on the other hand, they want to be a cook, a writer or a yoga teacher, then looking at alternative options may be wise.
The job market – and the world in general – is in the midst of a massive transformation, so investing tens of thousands of dollars in an outdated academic system may not yield desirable results.
First Steps – Apartment & Income
If you and your teen make the bilateral decision to bypass university, the first topic of discussion is practical matters.
Some teens are comfortable staying at home and living rent-free; others need to spread their wings and get their own place right away – preferably with responsible roommates who can support them.
Making sure that the apartment is mold free and hopefully not overrun by cockroaches is something you can help them with, as well as helping them buy their first futon and psychedelic posters for their walls.
Encouraging them to take a job in service or retail can be a good way to foster independence and build work ethic while they sort out a career with more upward mobility.
Encouraging Without Overstepping
Providing your teen with resources and gentle advice is okay – just don’t call them up every day and demand to know if they’ve chosen a career yet.
The general pattern with Millennials and the younger generation (generation Z, digital natives, etc.) is to explore quite a few options before settling into a career.
If your teen grows into a twenty-something and seems to hop around from one field of work to another, don’t sweat it. Many young people these days don’t really find their path until their early thirties.
The film and television industry is a popular option these days, as it is a fast-growing job market with a wide array of options that satisfy a broad range of interests and personalities – The CIE Tour may be an invaluable tool for your teen if they are trying to make the jump from dishwasher to a growth career.
University For Grownups
You may actually find that your teen wants to pursue a degree when they are older, so don’t imagine that it’s now or never. If your kid has a strong sense of what they want to do before you lay down that tuition, it will be money well spent.
They may even have some savings by then to contribute to the fund.
BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.