Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Parents Should Know when Preparing Kids for College

How many of us as kids dreamed about all the heroic jobs we could have when we were older? We  wanted to rescue people from harm, care for animals or maybe be the next President. 

How many of us as parents still dream these dreams for our children? We hope they will do something with purpose and make enough money along the way to support their family. It is important that we research all the facts first or we could be in a world of financial trouble with children struggling to find jobs.

Youth Leadership Walker County heard interesting presentations on this at our recent meeting.  I have tried to highlight the "takeaways" from each panel participant's talk. 

Shawna McCullar, the Career Coach for the Walker County and Jasper City School Systems

  • If you aren't doing well on the ACT, take the SAT. ACT tests for achievement, SAT tests critical thinking. You may do better on one than the other...and colleges accept both.
  • 30% of the students in a certificate program at our community colleges already have a 4 year degree
  • 60% of the jobs in Alabama require a two-year certificate or associates degree, 20% require no degree / certificate at all and 20% require a four year bachelors degree.
  • If you do not receive a full-ride from a four year institution, you will save your family A LOT of money by starting at a community college
  • Students should be looking at the following websites before choosing their higher education institution:
    • http://www.onetonline.org/. According to their website, "O*NET OnLine is an interactive application for exploring and searching occupations". 
    • www.alcareerinfo.org. which helps with career planning, financial aide, life after high school and many other resources

Ronica Raines, Bevill State Community College (BSCC), Director of Alabama Access to Higher Education

Mrs. Raines gave the following thoughts about Dual Enrollment:

  • Students have the opportunity to attend Bevill State Community College while in high school to simultaneously earn both high school and college credits 
  • Students should first look at the Stars Guide http://stars.troy.edu/stars.html to find classes that will transfer but are also needed in their chosen work field.
  • Some of these Dual Enrollment classes actually happen in the high schools, while others occur on the BSCC campus

LaToya Cosby, BSCC Director of Student Support Services

Ms. Cosby's presentation was full of "takeaways" that our students learned were necessities when applying for and keeping jobs.  What are soft skills and why are they needed? Good question and one that can be answered in many ways:

  • Soft skills are not technical but intangible skills that define a person 
  • Hard skill examples:
    • typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs;
  • Soft skills examples: 
    • Etiquette, 
    • Getting along with others, 
    • Listening 
    • Engaging in small talk
    • Teamwork
    • Communication
    • Flexibility
    • Patience
    • Time management
    • Motivation
  • Soft skills are not easy to come by. They have to be practiced and honed over the years. Students should start working on these now!
  • Soft skills should be included on cover letters and resumes as they are just as important now as hard skills.

At the end of the day, we all want our children to be successful and we as parents can help.