I have heard motivational speakers and self-help gurus say in a number of presentations that no one ever plans to fail. From a few experiences with clients over the years, I would have to disagree with them.
A very small number of clients I have worked with never seemed to complete tasks that were vital to their success. There was never any doubt that these teens wanted a successful life, they just didn’t want college to be a part of that success.
After watching in disbelief as a client torpedoed their college applications, frustration caused the golden words to fall from my lips; “do you even want to go to college?” The silence that followed told me all I needed to know. Once I adjusted to the new reality in front of me, an offer was made to break the news to the parents.
Once that lesson was learned, the signs of a student uninterested in continuing their education are no longer difficult to see. Since helping that first student escape an education they didn’t want, I have worked with two others whose parents had no idea they were going through the motions of applying to college solely to please them. Surprisingly, the students who decided against college had very well thought out plans for their future. I guess they wanted to be prepared if/when the opportunity arose to tell their parents that college wasn’t in their life plan.
My advice to both student and parent is a lot of good, honest conversation about what they want to happen after graduation from high school; even more important than the talking is listening. Be sure that you understand what is being said and ask questions if something is unclear or incomplete. Both sides have to remember that the student is about to come of age and begin making decisions for themselves. Even though the parent has already experienced and survived life after high school, their opinions should not be forced on their children. When the student does not buy into the idea of earning a college degree, it is usually a big waste of their time that burns a huge amount of their parents’ money. Have those regular recurring conversations about college so that both time and money are shrewd investments.