Three Thoughtful Tips to Help High Schoolers Design Their Futures

By Guest Blogger Linda Hixson, Technology Teacher at Shenandoah Valley Jr/Sr High School in the Shenandoah Valley School District of Pennsylvania

While moving into adulthood, teens are faced with a number of paths. Empowering students to select which path works best for them and determine how to best financially plan for the future are key to ensuring that some of their first adult decisions set them on a trajectory toward success.

I work with my high school students to ensure they understand the critical role of financial planning, no matter where their future takes them. Some of the most helpful resources I’ve found are from Pathway to Financial Success in School, a program from Discover Financial Services and Discovery Education. The resources (which are all standards-aligned!) –  like the self-paced learning units – are designed for wherever learning is taking place and give educators, like me, a solid foundation to help students understand the maze of topics related to finances and a set of strategies to help them as they move through life. The best part? They are all available at no-cost!

Here are few tips on how I help my students pave their personal roadmap:

1. Encourage Students to Explore All of the Possibilities

When talking to students about post-high school plans, be sure to help them consider a diverse set of options. In the “Weighing Your Career Options” unit, students discover how to honestly discern between a job and a career, and which path is best for them.

With an array of well-researched resources, students discover the tradeoffs of a 2- and 4-year college, as well as vocational programs, apprenticeships, and even military service. Students can effectively answer questions like: what education and/or training will I need to achieve my personal career goals?

2. Connect Learning to the Real-World

Whether it is potential earnings, job availability, or educational requirements, every career has evolving needs. Help students set achievable goals and turn plans into action by connecting their existing skills and passions outside the classroom. Dig into high-level questions to get their gears going, like:

  • How does education and training impact how much money I will earn in the future?

  • Which career is right for me?

  • What will the future of this career look like?

And you don’t have to do it alone: the self-paced module series helps answer tough questions with in-depth research, ready-to-use resources, and thought-provoking questions. Within each of the eight units are 5 self-paced modules directing the students through learning, as well as supplemental educator supports and family content.

3. Engage the Village

The old African adage of “it takes a village to raise a child” is as true as ever. Families play one of the most important roles in helping to mold their children’s money habits. They serve as role models for financial behavior and can encourage their children to develop good financial habits.

Help make a lasting educational impact by connecting what students learn in school with what they see at home. Each of the self-paced learning units offers family connection tips and insights. From conversation starters, to information about insurance, credit, and loans, the units support students as they explore the many facets of financial responsibility.

Above all, give students the resources they need to feel empowered to define their own goals and make their dreams come true. By encouraging them to consider financial literacy early, you can play a major role in helping students can go out into the world on a pathway of success.

Explore best practices for integrating financial literacy education in the classroom with the new Master Class series highlighting three incredible educators demonstrating the benefits financial education can have both on the intended beneficiary (the students) and the teachers themselves. These resources are also available in the Discovery Education K12 learning platform on the Pathway to Financial Success channel.