As I (Laura) type the title of this article, I can preemptively feel a collective gasp of disbelief from my readers followed by questions such as “What on earth is she thinking?” I feel led to write about this because I see it in my practice. I work with professionals, laborers, students, parents, and children. I have seen good intentions create even greater debt due to student loans and lowered self-esteem due to unemployment.
The truth is: a college degree does not equal a career or the ability to function as a productive member of society. According to Twentysomething Inc., 85% of college students return home to live for a while before living on their own. College does not necessarily prepare an individual for life on his own.
I feel there has been a prevailing lie fed to us by generations before us: Get a college degree and you will be successful. It’s not the advice-givers fault, it seems like good advice, but here’s the dilemma; oftentimes the advice stops there. We have been told to get a degree, but because a degree does not in itself get a job, we are still missing a few steps in the process of creating a productive adult life. It’s like being given a treasure map with a starting place and an “X marks the spot” without any of the other information in-between.
Five Essentials Needed for a Well-Adjusted Adulthood
1. Have an Awareness of Strengths and Weaknesses
We have developed into a culture where it is becoming more common for children to earn trophies for just showing up. It becomes difficult for a child to learn how to internally gauge strong performance versus poor performance within himself. Schools give children the chance to take and re-take tests; to do, or not do homework, and then gives them extra time to complete their assignments.
This creates a myriad of problems. First, children do not learn how to accept criticism as it arises when adults are constantly attempting to pad their egos. (How are they going to handle constructive criticism on a job evaluation from their boss when they are adults?) Second, children are less likely to know what they truly excel in. Our culture has essentially established everyone as “special” and has not done anything to teach children where their strengths (and weaknesses) truly lie. Everyone cannot be president, why do we act like it is a possibility for everyone to become president?
Acknowledging this concept early could mean the difference between a four year university, technical school or going straight into the workforce after high school graduation. For example, someone who struggles with writing, which is a heavy requirement in a liberal arts degree from a four year university, may be better off learning a trade and getting a license in it rather than going into debt for a degree that does not suit his or her strengths. This could be the difference of upwards of three years or more of education, and thousands of dollars saved by going into a career that can start paying right away, rather than going into school loan debt with no job to pay for it. (Need tips to encourage your daughter? Read “Eight Tips To Encouraging Girls To Be All That They Can Be.”)
2. A Social Network
Your child will be coming into contact with people. Having the ability to establish and maintain relationships far outlasts the length of most careers. It is important to invest in a child’s relationship skills early as this could determine who will be there to support your adult child during the difficult young adult years and beyond. Has your child or teenager already began unhealthy friendships? Read this article to find out: “Seven Signs You May Be In A Toxic Relationship.”
3. Emotional Quotient
Teaching your child to be an active listener could be one of the greatest gifts you give your child. It teaches your child to empathize for others and develop relationships based on healthy communication. If you want your child to be well-adjusted and stable, model this skill!
What is active listening? Active Listening Quick Tips:
1.) One of the best communication skills ever can be found in James 1:19, “be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” This formula can help prevent assumptions, lessening the chances of disagreements. For a more in depth description of James 1:19, read: “SLOW DOWN! Practical Ways To Handle Conflict.“
2.) Listen to understand, not just to respond.
3.) Try to limit “why” questions, which can make others defensive. Instead, ask “how” and “what” questions.
4.) When someone is speaking to you, try to put yourself in their shoes. Comment, “I could see how you would feel _______.” Connecting on a feelings level helps someone feel heard and understood. If you get it wrong, ask more questions, gently.
4. The Ability to Work with the Public
You may have read about the controversy surrounding IQ versus EQ. We are all familiar with IQ being a measure of an individual’s intellect, but what is EQ? EQ, or the emotional quotient, is an individual’s ability to read other’s emotional cues and to behave accordingly. Having a strong EQ means being able to be in tune into another’s emotions and using this information to interact.
I am seeing a trend of teens who will avoid at all costs getting a summer job, especially if it means having to work with the public. (Think fast food or retail.) If a teen does not learn how to do it now, when will they? At least as a teen you can have parents as a sounding board and a manager who can teach you. As an adult employee, other adults may be less forgiving.
5. A Faith Walk
Just as our relationships with others outlasts a career, so does our relationship with God. Starting a child off early learning about God through Bible stories, devotions, through praying together, and being part of a faith community encourages a child to feel closer to others as well as God. Want to learn more about improving your faith walk? Read “Three Unconventional Ways You Can Boost Your Confidence Today.”
This is Not a “Get-Out-of-Going-to-College Free Card”
College is not always the answer. For some, a college degree clearly helps to open doors. For others it is a setback for getting started on a career. And yet for some, college is an opportunity for an individual to learn what he does not want to do, and adjust accordingly. The essential skills mentioned above will help anyone to excel in college, work, or in relationships. of a Victorian home may cause others to seek you out to discuss their love of antiques.