I started The Learning Consultants in 2002. Relatively speaking, Connecticut was experiencing boom times.
Among our college counseling clientele, I have observed an uptick in anxiety.
There are likely several reasons beyond what I think is a general epidemic of anxiety:
1.) The Great Recession: Actual Economic Effect
After 2008, Americans, even in prosperous states like Connecticut, lost so much wealth that, in a literal sense, most are not as economically secure as they were back in 2008. For parents, this created a tangible challenge due to the extraordinary costs of college.
2.) The Great Recession: Perceived Psychological Effect
Post Great Recession, Americans, particularly those who were affected by job loss like those in Southeastern, CT after Pfizer left, have felt jittery about the future. For parents of college bound students, this created an increased sense of unease about the post-college employment prospects of the future for both parent and child.
3.) The economy has actually changed
In my last book, Career Path of Abundance, I describe in greater detail how the economy has changed and how that will effect those entering the work force. The Great Recession, while not necessarily coincidental, with these changes, was unrelated to the radically changing nature of the global economy. Americans now have greater opportunity from world wide markets but also greater worry for world wide competition, particularly in the labor market. Our well-fed, silver spoon, suburban Connecticut children are now competing against hungry, up from their bootstraps, urbanites in Asia and elsewhere.
Understandably, these forces have created anxiety for Connecticut parents as they think about how to best prepare their children for much more competitive world than they faced.
I am an optimist by nature. I really do believe the new world of work will present many wonderful opportunities for those who are prepared. Nonetheless, I understand that parents will face anxiety as their children head off to college.
The solution: take action. Take massive action to help ensure your children are ready.
What does that entail?
1.) The fundamentals do matter
For all the myriad of critiques of our education system, the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) remain vital for most students to succeed in high school and college, noting that there will be distinct differences of proportionality based on field of study. Ensure your child is being educated in an expert way in all three areas.
2.) Figure out what career interests might suit your child
With great worry that I’ll inadvertently create more anxiety, parents your job does not end when your child heads off to college. The career issue is even larger and – again sorry to be the bearer of bad news – but the brutal nature of the work force seems to require students to chose their internships- college major far more carefully than what was required for our generation. Our subsidiary Career Counseling Connecticut has been developed for this very reason.
3.) Begin the college process early
This may vary by parent. But when we provide college counseling to seniors who haven’t invested much in the process, the stress level is often very high. Summer before junior year is a good time for the first meeting.