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Tips for Parents

Help guide your student along the path to success

Your student probably has high career ambitions – whether it’s programming video games, building skyscrapers and sports arenas, designing racecars, cleaning up the environment or inventing lifesaving medical devices.

But your student may not know how to reach these goals, or how much dedication will be required along the way.

You can help. Students say their parents have the most influence on their career choice, followed by friends, teachers, counselors and siblings, according to research (“School to Careers,” Iowa Public Television,

Here are a few ways to help your student get started on a successful career path:

Tip 1: Listen to your student’s dreams and ambitions.

  • Even if your student seems “far off,” listen patiently. The first step of the journey is often the most difficult step. Often, beginning in one direction can open the doors to many other opportunities.
  • For example, if a student wants to become a professional athlete, and that’s not realistic, parents might talk about:
    • The business of sports medicine
    • Sports management, promotion and representation
    • Sports announcing and writing
    • Product and brand affiliation
    • Product manufacturing
    • Retail sales
  • By broadening your student’s horizons, you can open your student’s eyes to the many related possibilities.

Tip 2: Tell your student that a good education is the basis for a successful career.

  • Remind your student that math and science courses form the foundation for many careers, including engineering.
  • By supporting your student’s interest in and talent for math and science, you can set your student up for success, no matter what career your student ultimately chooses.

Tip 3: Be involved with your student’s education.

  • Try these ideas from Iowa Public Television’s “School to Careers” program (
    • Ask your student what’s happening in class
    • Talk about the connections between school and work
    • Discuss how to prepare for tests
    • Know how your student is doing in school

Tip 4: Teach your student the intangibles required for success.

  • These intangibles include:
    • Commitment
    • Time management
    • Prioritization
    • Follow through
    • Concentration and focus
    • Curiosity
    • Creativity
    • Cooperation and teamwork
    • Empathy
  • Although your student may learn and practice these intangibles at school, it’s critical that you reinforce these concepts at home.

Tip 5: Enjoy watching your student grow!

  • Remember: As your student is exposed to new ideas and experiences, his or her dreams will change over time.
  • For example, doctors often say that they decided on a medical career while they were in college. But without a strong foundation in high school math and science, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for them to pursue this dream.
  • The growing process is just that: a process. As your student advances from grade to grade, expect new dreams to replace old ones. What’s important is for parents and students to remain flexible, yet firmly rooted in the educational process.