Think Forward, Act Now: Closing the Gap Between Your Child’s Aspirations and Reality

By: Becky Post

If you are a parent, you know your kids have many interests, and those interests naturally lead to conversations about future plans. When you ask your child about future career options, he or she may have very specific plans: “Mom, I’m going to be a pilot,” or “I’m going to be a pharmacist.” The Gallup Youth Survey asked American teens, aged 13 to 17, about their career aspirations. The top ten picks were teacher, doctor, lawyer, sports field, science/biology, architecture, business, military, engineer, and nurse—our kids have high aspirations.

You may also be feeling pressure about how to pay for college. The average undergraduate cost was $13,600 for a public college and $36,300 for a private institution during the 2010-2011 school year; this included tuition, room, and board, according to the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research.

Because those price tags represent big commitments for most families, parents want to know that they are making a solid investment in their child’s future. The problem is, college completion rates were at 32 percent in 2010, according to the National High School Center.

That same report notes that from 1997 to 2010, middle and high school students who planned to go to college increased from 67 percent to 75 percent; however, during that same period college graduation only increased from 28 percent to 32 percent.

Those statistics bear out a gap between young people’s aspirations and what they actually accomplish. Fortunately, there are things that parents can do to help young people connect what they think and do today to who they hope to become tomorrow.

Research shows that when the present self and the possible self are aligned, people are more willing to invest in the future and defer gratification in the present. Dr. Kent Pekel’s next ParentFurther webinar will help parents cultivate within their children an attitude of "think forward, act now." Learn how to motivate your children to envision their best possible selves, then help them act upon what they need to do today to realize those possibilities for tomorrow.

Join us for The Perseverance Process: Cultivating an Attitude of “Think Forward, Act Now” in Your Kids, a free webinar presented by Kent Pekel, Ed.D., President and CEO of Search Institute, on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 12PM - 1PM, CST.

Register for the free webinar now >>

Rebecca Post is the director of content development at Search Institute. She has worked as a book editor for most of her career. She and her husband are successfully surviving the empty nest, now that their only child is in college.



Linda Lyons, "Teens' Top 10 Career Picks," The Gallup Youth Survey, May 17, 2005.

National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research, "College and Career Readiness: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet," October 2012.

Photo Credit: Andy Idsinga via Flick'r.

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