How to Talk About College and Careers With Your Teen

The Vermeire's come together for a family dinner, sharing the day's stories from school, work and track practice. Each of the girls have different daily routines dependent on school activities, chores and after school employment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

photo credit:  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Sometimes parents get the big eye roll when they try to discuss college and careers with their teenagers. Teens get college and career advice all the time. Everyone has an opinion about their aspirations, interests, etc. So how can you have a powerful discussion with your teen about college and careers?

“You should be a …..” 

Ask you teen what career interests they have, but don’t tell them what to be. Even if you notice a talent they have that would make them suitable for a particular path if they have no interest in that area they will not be able to excel in that field. Try suggesting a career rather than telling them what they should do. “Have you thought about …….” “Do you know anything about ……”

You can be whatever you want to be.

While this is a supportive approach it is not the best way to help your teen. This statement gives them no guidance. Ask your teen questions about careers. Talk about choices together.

If it’s hard then don’t do it.

This is not something parents should say to students. We need to encourage our children to take on challenges and persevere. Challenging things make us stronger. We learn from challenging experiences. I know we want our children to take on a career that will not be stressful or cause emotional pain, but at the same time some people see a job as overwhelming and others may see the same job as an opportunity. Don’t discourage your teen. If you think they mention a career that is challenging explore the pros and cons together.

Picture yourself 10 years from now. Where are you? What are you doing? Who is around you?

Do you have a career vision?

What do you want to get really good at doing?

What is your definition of work?

What impact do you want to have on other people’s lives or in the world?

Whom do you admire most? What qualities do you admire in that person. (living or dead)

What is most important to you? What do you value?

What motivates you?

Do you believe that you can love what you do and make money doing it?

The best thing you can do for your teen is listen to them, ask them about their interests, and guide them to making choices best suited for them.

Melanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

Teens and Parents: The Power of a Book

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Remember the days when you read bedtime stories to your child? You had a chance to cuddle and talk. Wouldn’t you love to be able to have that closeness again? Even though your teen has probably outgrown bedtime stories there is another way to get that connection.

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With Audible by Amazon you can listen to books and connect with your teen. Listening to books in the car together can prompt some powerful discussions. It’s sure to improve communication with your teen and make them feel more comfortable about talking to you in the future. You will be creating some valuable memories with this special time you spend together. Obviously the books you choose are important. Below are some suggestions but you could have a lot of fun making a list together. FYI: Sometimes there are opportunities for FREE books! Yay!

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7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens By Sean Covey

The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make By Sean Covey 

A Teen’s Guide to Success: How to Be Calm, Confident, Focused By Ben Bernstein Ph.D.

The Secret to Teen Power By Paul Harrington

If You Think You Can! for Teens: Thirteen Laws for Creating the Life of Your Dreams By TJ Hoisington

 Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom


The Giver By Lois Lowry

To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. Salinger

The Outsiders By S.E. Hinton

Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling

The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins


mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.

How to Talk to Teachers: 10 Tips for Student Success

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Have you ever had a teacher who you felt was unfair? In my experience with students I hear the following phrases:

  • My teacher doesn’t like me.
  • My teacher treats the other students different than me.
  • My teacher doesn’t answer my questions.
  • My teacher is mean.

It is no secret that communication is key. I believe it is vital that we teach students communication skills in order to help them build healthy relationships and gain conflict-resolution skills. When students have these skills they feel more connected to their classroom, their teacher, and their school, because they have a voice.

Just about every student, at one time or another has struggled to maintain or improve their grades. For students to succeed here, it’s important to communicate with and build relationships with their teachers. However, many students tend to avoid their teachers for reasons like they think their teachers will judge them, they think the teacher will tell them information they already know, they don’t like their teacher or think their teacher doesn’t like them, or they believe they will be judged by their peers as “not cool” for talking to their teacher.

Tips for How to Talk to Teachers

1. Make an appointment. Teachers are very busy so schedule a time to talk rather than trying to discuss something in the middle of class or right after class.

2. Talk to your teacher with a fellow classmate. If you know other students who are having the same issue(s) as you then go to the teacher together.

3. Plan ahead. Write down what you want to say beforehand. Write down any questions you have and if it is regarding a particular assignment or test, make sure you have the necessary paperwork.

4. Use your words.  Don’t say negative words like “boring” or “I don’t like writing.” Ask questions that are not insulting, such as “Can you suggest a good way to get started?” Let your teacher know that you want to do well and how important it is for you to be able to succeed. When you ask questions about an assignment instead of saying “I don’t get it.” Be specific and explain what part of the assignment you don’t understand.

5. Be a problem solver.  Don’t expect your teacher to solve an issue for you. Propose a solution to your teacher.

6. Be empathetic. Try to look at the situation from your teacher’s point of view. Be respectful. Teachers have feelings too. Don’t ever go to a teacher with an angry tone. It will not solve anything.

7. Listen! It is important to listen respectfully to your teacher. The teacher may tell you something you don’t know, which could be of great help.

8. If you think it is “uncool” to talk to your teachers, then revisit your values. How important is it to you, to succeed? Communication with your teacher, the person you see everyday, is key to your success. Take advantage!

9. Don’t make assumptions. You don’t know what your teacher is thinking. Don’t assume they don’t like you. Talk to them! You may be surprised what comes out of the conversation. The reality is your teacher may not like you. Remember, if you have the right not to like them then, they have the right not to like you. We are all human. You can’t control the actions of others, but you can choose how you react to them.

10. Learn from the experience. Even if the conversation with your teacher doesn’t go the way you hoped at least now you have a clearer picture of your teacher’s expectations. Now, you know what to do in the future. Hopefully, your teacher learned from the experience as well. Don’t forget to SAY THANK YOU.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at or (904) 487-8269.