17 April 2018

How to determine the right graduation pathway for your child

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How to determine the right graduation pathway for your child

In many ways, helping your child think about the future sooner rather than later can be a tremendous help when exploring the right graduation pathway. Every child is different, with distinct strengths and weaknesses emerging as they progress through their education. The Stamford American International School in Singapore picks up on these, helping children play to their strengths while working with them to improve areas where they encounter challenges. Our goal is to encourage confidence and develop new skills in young people to facilitate a bright future for all our graduates.

So, what can you do to help your child prepare for what comes after high school?

There are three common choices available. They could decide to go to University, get a job, perform a National Service, or take some time off for a gap year. In many cases, individuals who take time off have already earned a university place and will defer it to gain wider experience of the real world. Some children just need a little more time to decide what their future ambitions look like.

Going to University

It's what many young people want to do and there's no doubt that attending university can be a seminal period of an eager student's life. But you should be under no illusions — gaining acceptance is competitive and the process is not at all plain sailing, depending on the university of choice.

It is advisable to start preparations early, especially if your child wants to try to get into a top university. You will need to do some research to explore different options and available courses, even if your child is yet to determine which academic discipline to pursue. There are deadlines for admissions programs that you need to be aware of so you can help your child prepare a timeline for applications. For example, Stamford American students are privileged to have easy access to 'EducationUSA', who provides the information and advice for US universities, right on campus.

Rather than leaving everything to the last minute, encourage your child to start writing things down as practice for the university application process. Consider it a little like a job resume, a snapshot of what your child has achieved in their student life so far. You can suggest a range of topics to explore which will be useful later on, including:

  • Strengths and weaknesses, both academic and personal
  • Any extracurricular activities they take part in
  • Awards and grade point average
  • Class rank and scores for SAT, ACT or AP
  • As you ease them in to this process, move on and develop consideration of what qualities universities find desirable and whether or not moving away from home to go to school or staying close to home is the preferred option. You could also suggest that online degree options might be suitable, especially if they already have a job.

It's also worth discussing options with your child's high school to see what experienced academic and careers counselors might suggest for future academic development. At Stamford American, their Academic High School Success Plan helps students start to navigate their tertiary aspirations starting from Grade 8. This helps determine which High School pathway supports their decision.

Getting a job

Going to a university is not for everyone, though having a degree tends to mean that over a lifetime of work your child will earn more than someone without further education qualifications. However, it has to be said that this is not always the case. 

There are many young people who want to get onto the ladder and earn a living. These individuals may have enjoyed part-time work during the later years of high school, what with the money and sense of independence that it affords them.

Getting a job doesn't mean education stops — far from it. With respectable exam results there are many options open, particularly with companies that encourage employees to continue their education in areas that relate to their vocation. For example, if your child is good at mathematics but doesn't want to pursue it further via university, joining an accountancy firm could present many opportunities to engage in further study. Many employers will reimburse their workers for this because it brings benefits to the company, as well as helping to reinforce employee loyalty.

Commencing employment after graduation also offers ambitious individuals the possibility of rising up the ranks in their chosen career path earlier on, while still developing relevant skills and experience. Remember, it is never too late to go to university if you decide to enroll later on in life.

Take a gap year

Whether it's community service, going traveling or getting a job before going to university, a year off can be a time when your child has an opportunity to explore what happens in the real world and what living outside the educational framework entails.

There are many online information points for young people who want to take a year off, so they can decide what will best suit them.

In the end, determining the right graduation pathway for your child comes down to listening to them, discussing the ways forward after graduation, and supporting them in the decisions they make. Don't do it in isolation though - speak with your High School teachers and counsellors who are trained how to navigate university applications, and have keen interest and knowledge of your child and their ability.

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