5 Questions to Ask Your Child to Help Them Find College and Career Fit

So, you’d like to be involved in your child’s college search, but you’re not sure how to go about it without inadvertently taking over the process. First, it’s great that you want to be involved, and that you want to be mindful of how you involve yourself! You’ve likely heard countless times that your role is to support your child, and we’d like to reiterate that sentiment!

However, supporting your child shouldn’t be taken to mean simply nodding your head in agreement with their every thought and decision. Instead, continually engaging your child in open conversation is the best way to prompt them to take time to self-reflect. In this article, we’ll outline 5 questions that you can ask your child to help them find their best-fit college.

What do you want your life to look like after college?

Do they want to stay close to home or move far away? Do they want to have a house or an apartment? What kind of social life do they want to have, and how might their work hours affect their social life? After considering lifestyle, your child can clearly think about what career paths fit their ideal life.


What types of careers interest you?

When asking this question, keep the focus on careers rather than college degrees. The idea is that you want your child to think of their lifelong career desires, and then backtrack that into a degree program.


If your child knows exactly what they want to do, great! Ask them to explain why they came to this decision and keep asking for detailed responses.


If your child is still unsure, ask them what things they really enjoy inside and outside of school. Do they like math more? Maybe science? Neither? Okay! Help them find an area of study that interests them, and from there, work on identifying why they like that area.


What credentials do you need to excel in that career field?

Too often, students pick a career field without being fully aware of what most employers look for in employees within that field. It’s important that your child know what exact type of schooling and/or level of experience they will need for the career they are interested in pursuing. Asking family friends for advice or pursuing a shadow/internship experience can help your child gain more insight into the requirements of a career. Once they understand this, they can better understand the type of education they’ll need.


How much are you willing to invest in your education?

Whether you’re paying for all, part, or none of your child’s education, it’s critical that they understand that college is an investment. To that end, help them understand what level of investment they are willing to take, and how the career they pursue will position them to have a positive “return.” Too many students end college, unaware of the amount of college loan debt they’ve acquired. There’s no doubt that there’s a lot to understand when it comes to financial aid. Give this webinar a listen for expert tips from Scoir Strategic Advisor, Peter Van Buskirk.


What will a college get if it admits you?

This one might cause some eye-rolls from your child. It’s a little vague, and a little rhetorical, but sometimes those questions prompt a lot of thought. The idea here is to get your child to think about who they are. What are their best qualities? Why would a college benefit from admitting them? Encourage your child to list out their best qualities, strengths, and weaknesses.

Final thoughts about conversing openly 

Teaming up with your child on their college search can be a difficult path to traverse. With these questions in mind, keep the conversations going all throughout high school. You might find that the answers change drastically as your child learns more about their likes and dislikes. With clear boundaries, open communication can make all the difference. 

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