For many high school seniors, May 1st is an important day: National Decision Day. It’s the day they decide what comes after high school — the first of many big decisions they’ll make for themselves. This year, it also marks a day in which their decisions are heavily impacted by the world around us.
They did the work, took the tests, made it through the teenage years and now have their sights set on graduating high school. While you and your family explore different ways to commemorate this milestone (perhaps with video calls and virtual graduation parties?), we hope you can still find time to talk about the next chapter of your child’s life.
The new-age debate
Our Gen Zs live in a world of entrepreneurs and self-starters. They’re seeing success as seven-year-old YouTube influencers make millions and 16-year-olds start their own companies.
So it makes sense why your kids will have different thoughts and considerations surrounding the college talk. That’s not to say that they don’t want to go to college — they just may not see it as the only option. As parents, we need to listen to that so we can guide them toward a decision that we all feel good about.
To sign or not to sign? What to consider
The college talk isn’t just on National Decision Day — it’s year-round. It’s a good idea to stay in the loop with the merging views on the subject. When you delve into the college talk, you may come across split views on a few things:
Because every financial situation is different, student loans are a hot button for many parents. If you and your kids are thinking about student loans, take time to explore every avenue and talk about how it will impact them throughout and after college.
In 2018, the average individual student loan amount was $29,200. Loans may or may not be an option for your family. Either way, National Decision Day is a great opportunity to talk through the numbers with your soon-to-be grad.
Public vs. private vs. community:
The good news is we’ve got lots of options. The not-so-good news? Well, it’s hard to decide! It’s no secret that most private schools come with a heavy cost and community schools are typically the most affordable. Public schools tend to sit somewhere in the middle of the two.
Talk to your kids about finances — how they’ll be managing their money throughout college, pros and cons of an expensive school and what matters most to them. Your conversation could bring you to a cost-benefit analysis (bonus!) or it could spark up a new outlook on the entire decision-making process.
Anyone else feel like their kids are too young to decide on a career path? In many ways, they are. That being said, they may have a different perspective. 91% of high schoolers believe they know their dream job, according to a survey done by EY and Junior Achievement.
To them, a career is fun, exciting and adulty (their word, not ours). You know better than them that careers are not just about fun — they’re about financial security and stability.
The transition out of high school is a prime time to have an open, honest conversation with your kids about this. You have the best insight into your kids’ strengths and interests, and you can use this knowledge to help them choose a path that will give them the biggest return on investment. (Props to you if you can make ROI sound fun!)
Looking for a way to start the conversation? Try these:
- Credible student loan calculator
- PayScale tool: ROI by college and major
- Forbes: How to calculate your college education return on investment
“Are we there yet?”
You’ve got a lot to think about, but no need to stress about it. National Decision Day is an exciting time for you and your kids. No matter what path they choose, the most important thing is that they have you.
And… they have Greenlight! They may be growing up, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop helping them make wise money decisions. If you haven’t already, join Greenlight to keep your kids financially-healthy and happy throughout this next chapter of their lives.