When you get that first college tuition bill for your student, there is bound to be a bit of sticker shock attached. Every year, the cost of getting a degree rises at nearly every school. While scholarships and outside funding are available, finding that elusive full-ride is harder than ever. That is why many parents will sit down this fall and talk to their children about the importance of getting their first job or paid internship. Here are a few tips on how to discuss working in college with your student.
What You Need to Consider
Before you talk, it’s important to understand the other side of the picture. For example, are you sure your student’s schedule can actually accommodate a job? Many take a mixture of morning, afternoon, and night classes throughout the week (and even some weekends), making it hard to find a job that caters to that crazy, changing schedule.
Another aspect you should consider is what your expectation of their grades is. It can be hard to balance activities and work normally, let alone when your first priority is going to school full-time! If your child is struggling, this may not be the time to encourage it.
Finally, it’s important to understand their personal academic and career goals. Do you know what your child wants to do with their degree after graduation? This can give you an idea of jobs that may be worth their time and efforts or if they may be more suited for an internship. For example, a future teacher might benefit from tutoring, rather than doing fast food work.
Make It Worth Their Efforts
Most students get that jobs = money, but they may not be aware of the other benefits. For example, if you see an opening for a job as an animal tech, your veterinarian major may not understand how great it would look on their resume or may not see it as a way to network. Casually discussing this can be a great way to bring up the job conversation naturally.
If the goal is to get an internship, don’t forget to discuss the benefits of a paid versus an unpaid and which one is right for them. Encourage them to speak with professors or to an advisor if they’re unsure, and introduce them to a former college student if you can. Hearing it from outside sources can inspire them to act.
Lend a Hand
It can be intimidating to search for a job, especially with resumes and interviews. If your student did not work in high school, taking these unknown steps can be scary and a test of confidence. You can help out by offering to assist by proof reading their resume (or pointing them towards someone more capable), helping search job sites, or brainstorming work around town they can take on.
At the same time, be very careful not to overstep or take over. If you do too much, they may be tempted to let you do all the work without taking ownership. Or, on the other hand, they may lose interest and forget about it all together. It’s a fine line to walk, so be sure to check in often.
Be Honest At All Times
This isn’t the time to hold back. If money is a major concern, especially from your perspective, this is the time to open up. Tell them of your concerns and the reality of the situation. At this point in their lives, they should be able to understand and hear you out.
At the same time, let them talk honestly with you. Listen to their concerns, and help them think through their worries. Balancing jobs and student life may not be easy, but with your help and encouragement, you can make the difference in their decision.
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