LANSING, Mich. (WLNS-TV) – It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: How to help kids plan for the future.

More and more parents of teenagers are discovering that their kids do not think college is necessary anymore for success. In fact, a recent study by ECMC Group and Vice Media showed that nearly half of all graduating high school seniors think that. According to Grace Bastidas, editor in-chief for ‘Parents’… this shift is due to a number of reasons with the main one being cost. The price to attend a four-year college full-time has increased by 180% since 1980, and the average debt load for a 2022 college graduate has now surpassed more than $28,000. It’s a financial burden Bastidas says many teenagers don’t want to deal with, especially with new ways to make money and create a career.

“College is not one-size-fits-all and so that may not be the path,” says Bastidas. “This generation, Gen Z, they are very creative, they are looking at different learning opportunities and I think we need to hear them out. They have their own ideas and as parents we can support them in so many different ways.”

Let’s get into some of the recommended ways parents can help their children plan for the future if college isn’t looking likely. Bastidas says, first, help them narrow their focus. You can do that by learning what your child’s interests and passions are, and then explore opportunities that align with those interests. Second, help them build real work experience with activities or jobs connected to what they love doing. Third, accept the unknowns. Bastidas say being unclear about your child’s path might be nerve-racking, but you need to assure them it’s part of the process and help them set up some alternative plans if certain things don’t work out.

Bastidas says, it’s also wise to talk with counselors at your child’s school for leads on internships or programs connected to what your child is interested in while they attend high school and/or after graduating.