Choices in 2021
Further education and planning for the future is a daunting task for any teen or young adult. But this year, these individuals are now having to make these major decisions when they have had months of remote learning and the guidelines on exams in 2021 are still unclear.
We asked Sarah Dean, a specialist in further education and early careers coach, to provide us with information and top tips for helping your 16-22 year olds keep on track with decisions about their future.
Our teens are asked to make major decisions aged just fourteen when they select their GCSE’s. Then it’s ‘A’ levels, BTEC’s or alternatives and by Year 12, the big question of University, an Apprenticeship or starting a first job has to be faced. These are often the first major decisions they have made, and many students feel ill-equipped to make them – especially given the other pressures on them both academically and socially. This year, I’ve noticed an increase in anxiety coupled with less clarity on options and I’m pretty sure it’s related to the reduced contact with teachers and being isolated from their peer groups.
Our children don’t always respond well to our well-meaning parental advice about what subjects or careers they should consider, but there are a few things you can try to do to help from home:
- Encourage them to actively engage with online career or academic choice sessions run by schools and colleges to help them review the options available to them
- Show them how to do a ‘pros and cons’ list so that they can analyse what appeals to them, what doesn’t and why – this can apply to degree subjects, career options etc..
- Make sure they are talking to their peers (online) about their options, but equally ensure they don’t just ‘follow the pack’ and end up making the wrong choices
- Try to get them to think about where they see themselves in the future – what sort of careers might suit them in terms of their skills and values? Work back from there to align the choice of A levels or Degree courses that will support that journey and, importantly, not close any doors in the future
- If they are starting to think about careers, there are currently a lot of online internships and courses which may give them an insight into certain careers, but will also look good on a CV
- Again, if careers are being considered, suggest they make contact with relatives or friends parents who have interesting jobs and get them to set up a quick chat with them to find out more about it
- The internet can be overwhelming, but there are many online resources to help choose careers or degree courses, so encourage them to do their own research into their options
Many parents often ask me ‘How can you help my son/daughter if they won’t listen to me?’
I think the fact that I’m independent and not their parent really helps! Following a short free consultation, I create a bespoke session plan for each client – usually just two sessions can make a huge difference to a client’s confidence and direction. Together we explore what they are good at, what they enjoy doing and why, how they like to learn and work, and in what sorts of environments they thrive. By identifying some core ‘strengths’, values and areas of interest it is possible to narrow down the world of work into smaller buckets which can then inform which courses or careers would be best aligned to their personal profile. I also help students plan and prepare for all types of student assessments and have lots of amazing success stories!
Please contact us if you would like any more information on further education or careers guidance.