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Expert Insights: Helping Students Strategize for College with Career Coach Crystal Kadakia

February 20, 2013

by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief

With the cost of college rising, parents and students can no longer afford to wait until college starts to determine what career path to take. So how can parents help kids make such tough decisions, like what they’ll study and what they’ll be? I reached out to career coach Crystal Kadakia from Career Indulgence to find out. 

eNannySource: When should parents begin encouraging children to start considering their career and college options?

Crystal: Tenth grade is the ideal time, as this allows the flexibility for trial and error with electives and extra-curricular activities in school. This may sound surprisingly early to some parents, however when we consider the rising costs of college and poor economy today, it becomes more and more vital to have a clear college strategy so students can get the most out of college. Unfortunately, high school counselors not only are overwhelmed by the sheer number of students (the average ratio is 471 students to 1 counselor), but they do not have the specialized skill set or methodology to guide teens in making this critical decision.

eNannySource: What about the cost of college? How are today’s students paying for college?

Crystal: The average cost of college is the highest it has ever been, with an average cost of $22,000 per year for in state public college and $43,000 per year for private college. Many students are swimming in debt, with 60% of students graduating with debt and 25% of these students having more than $30,000 in debt.

Students are paying for college through financial aid, smart planning in advance from their parents, internships throughout school and scholarships. What is clear, however, is that those who have a defined college strategy are more likely to get a job that is higher paying and in their field. Students who have internships are 20% more likely to get a job and earn higher pay. The chances of getting an internship greatly increase when students are focused and have a clear goal.

eNannySouce: How can parents encourage children to explore their career choices?

Crystal: Parents can talk about your own career journey – not only is this a good relationship builder, it is very helpful for teens to see how what one does in school that translates to the workforce and the “real world.” They can also create a safe environment for exploration. This sometimes includes allowing your teen to feel safe to try/fail/try/fail and switch from activity to activity

eNannySource:  What’s your best advice to kids considering their career and college options?

Crystal: Get as much experience you can. Talk, talk, talk. Shadow someone. Ask your parents if they know anyone in that field you can talk to. Work in that field as an unpaid intern, even if for a week. The difference between learning in a textbook and applying it in the real world can be very, very different. This will also greatly enhance college applications and could be a key differentiator for admissions and scholarships.

For college options, search for the top ranked schools in your major. These schools will have the better professors and better alumni networks that can help you search for the first job. Talk to current students in the program and get their likes/dislikes.

eNannySource: What’s the biggest college planning mistake parents make?

Crystal: Skipping the “why” and jumping right into which college? Financial aid? SAT prep? For the amount of time and money spent in college, knowing why your teen is going to college is critical. This also builds visible confidence in your teen – confidence that eventually plays out in better grades and an easier, more fun college experience.

Based in Atlanta, GA, Crystal Kadakia is a training manager for the multi-billion dollar consumer products company Procter & Gamble, as well as a career coach specializing in college strategies for students. Crystal is passionate about helping individuals find and embrace their authentic, unique personalities and, subsequently, use their authenticity as a key differentiator in pursuing a career. Outside of coaching and her full time job, she enjoys road trips, salsa dancing, self-development and learning anything new. You can learn more about Crystal at www.careerindulgence.com and follower her @CareerNdulgence. 


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