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Articles for parents by Carol Christen
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Student loans, for academic or technical colleges, aren't "free money." Typically, loan repayment begins four months after you leave school. If students borrow more than two-thirds of their likely starting salary, they won't be able to pay their bills, much less afford a place of their own. Many young workers have been surprised by how negatively debt has affected their lives. Over 40% of students who borrowed money for their higher education didn't think the debt was worth it. You can find out more by doing an Internet search using the phrase "student loan debt."

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Talking Points

Carol ChristenMy name is Carol Christen. EUREKA has asked me to write a column for parents based on research and ideas from my book, What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens. As parents have a big influence on their children's career choices, I am delighted to do so.

13 ideas to go over with your teen to get them started building their first career path

  1. By what age do you want or need your daughter or son to be partly self-supporting? By when do you want them to be fully self-supporting?
  2. A job finances life. What kind of a life does your son or daughter want as a young adult?
  3. Your teen isn't picking a job for life. On average, members of your child's generation will work in four different fields and have 18 jobs (on average). This young generation will have short career arcs, even shorter ones when they are starting out. So remember, your teen is picking what he or she going to do first to earn a living when they leave school, at whatever level that turns out to be.
  4. Jobs are like clothing, quite a few need to be tried out in order to find a couple that fit really well.
  5. To learn what a particular job is really like, your teen needs to talk with at least 9 people who do that job, or a similar one. If you help your teen do this, they will learn about new jobs neither of you knew existed, create a network of people who know them (and can tell them about vacancies). Through this field research, your daughter or son may learn about training short cuts and they will develop skills that will help them do well in employment interviews.
  6. About 75% of today's jobs require training, education, or both after secondary school. Only 20% of those need an academic degree. (How do you learn best? A university education is an academic education and not everyone learns well that way. If you are going to take on more studies, make sure they fit how you learn.)
  7. Do the jobs your son or daughter most want happen in places where they would like to live?
  8. What are the starting salaries for work your teen wants to do? Most reports about salary use averages. Starting salaries are much lower. Luckily, EUREKA has information about starting salaries. If your student is going to borrow money to cover educational expenses, don't let them borrow more than two-thirds of their likely starting salary or they won't be able to pay their bills!
  9. No one is a success at something they don't like. What are the most repetitive tasks of the jobs your daughter or son most want to do? How will they feel doing those tasks day after day?
  10.  Help your teen talk with the youngest people you can find who are doing the jobs that most interest your teen. The experience of recent hires can be very different from those who have been doing that job for a while.
  11. Learn effective job search techniques. No matter how great your teens education, training, skills or experience, if they can't get a job in the field you most want to work in, you won't have a career in that field.
  12. Finding a job that your teen will enjoy-one that matches their ambitions, education and interests-is their responsibility. Lots of people can help, but no one can do it for them.
  13. Help your teen develop a philosophy that leaves room for the unexpected. Sometimes plans or goals must change. Those who are flexible or who can set new goals won't be devastated when life takes an unexpected turn.
Carol Christen is a veteran career strategist and author of What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens. Carol has spent several years researching the new generation of workers as they enter the economic marketplace of the early 21st century. Learn more about her work at