Apr | 2013



How to ensure your child strategically uses college to find a career rather than as a $150,000 playground

The smartest parents I know have their child undergo a career assessment process BEFORE they go to college. Or in the first few years of college.

I’m talking about a disciplined and systematic process that is much more valuable and informative than having their child take a generic career questionnaire as many of us did in the 1980s. Let’s start by acknowledging a few fundamental facts:

By the age of 17 or 18, your child…

-has enough life experience to know what they really like and do not like doing

-has clear ideas about what academic areas they love and which they hate

-has a fairly well formed set of vocational aptitudes and personality traits

-has a basic personality, coping style, and set of life values

By using these four key “human factors” areas, a skilled career counselor who has behavioral science training can help your child clear away a lot of the “career fogginess” that plagues those youth who go to college and wander around wasting their parents hard-earned money. College costs $100-$300,000 when you total up all the costs. College education now is an unrealistically overpriced proposition, and you need to approach it strategically so every class your child takes it strategically chosen to help them get one step closer to a chosen career. And college is not for every child, some will be better off going to a trade or technical school or entering the workforce. I do not think that the American Dream needs to involve a college education.

As a PhD behavioral scientist providing career guidance, I absolutely love helping young minds find their vocational “sweet spot” as we use superior tools to capture and map out their passions, aptitudes, skills, and motivations. This mapping that we do serves people for many years after the original work because people’s personalities remained remarkably stable over time as do their interests, values, and passions.

Over 50 adolescents and college students I’ve worked with are now in meaningful jobs earning robust salaries after having gone through my unique career guidance process. There is nothing more enjoyable for me than to help someone dial into a lifelong career. Career success is one of the major factors that predict level of happiness as research resoundingly shows.

The beauty of beginning a career assessment process before college or within the first year or two of college is that every class taken can serve as either a further confirmation of a passion or as a further confirmation that a particular area is not of interest. I have written about this process in a more detailed manner in the following blog: https://www.doctorbrunner.com/counselors-using-deeper-scientific-tools-help-youth-find-life-long-careers/

Here’s the bottom line question you need to answer about one of the most expensive investments you will ever make: what do you need to do to ensure that the money you spend on your child’s college education is a wise investment rather than wasteful spending as it is for the vast majority of students’ parents. I submit to you that the MOST IMPORTANT strategy to deploy is to make sure your student begins college with a finite set of occupational possibilities on their dashboard. That way, every college course choice and summer experience is part of a systematic and disciplined plan ultimately resulting in smooth entry into a robust and engaging career.

Behavioral science has come a long way from the old school generic career questionnaires. The smartest parents I know take advantage of these advancements in vocational science. They can’t afford not to!!!

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