So, this blog is a bit late compared to when I usually write them, because I caught flu over Christmas and all plans just fell apart of course. It has made me feel a bit frustrated at times, but it’s just one of those things and it has been a good reminder that our health, mental and physical, always needs to come first, because otherwise everything else will eventually break down. There can be many health challenges that might be derailing your teen’s education and career plans, and suddenly they are not able to attend school for a while, or their grades are not what they were expected to get even a few months ago.
They are not alone
In the last few years, with all the added pressures of the pandemic and all that comes with that, I have seen more students than ever who for one health reason or another have missed a lot of school, sometimes years, or have struggled with their school work due to health challenges and were no longer on track to get the grades they were originally expecting.
They might think they have lost out
This can cause a huge amount of worry, frustration and anxiety about the future, both for the teens themselves, and their families. You might feel your teen has lost all their opportunities and you might both be grieving in some way for the things you hoped for and that now seem out of reach. Which in turn usually does not help with recovery, particularly when it comes to mental health challenges.
It really isn’t the end of the world
But there are options!!! Yes, they may not go with the original plan A, but there can be B, C, and D. And often more. The most common worry I hear about is that young people are not getting the grades for their preferred college courses or apprenticeships, and think it is all over. In fact, the solution is usually quite simple and involves looking for a college that can offer a course at level 2 or below, which they can use as a stepping stone to work up. They can still have the college experience and they can still get the qualifications they want when they are ready.
If it’s the best thing for their health, it’s the best thing for their future
Even if your teen needs complete time out of education to focus on getting better, this is not the end of the world. If it is the best thing for their health, it will also be the best thing for their future education and career. To get the most out of their education or training, they need to be in the right place mentally and physically. They can get the qualifications later on in different ways.
Yes, getting A-levels as an evening course is a different experience from doing it at 17 and 18 in college, but if it is the qualifications they are worried about it is easier to solve than they might think.
There are many potential options
They can work up from lower-level courses. They can study things like access courses or foundation years later on as an adult at many colleges or universities to help them get into their chosen degrees and apprenticeships. When they are ready, they might choose an apprenticeship route and work from level 2 all the way to degree level over time, if full-time academic education doesn’t feel like the right fit anymore. They might join the Open University. There really are choices. They might be a little different from what most of their friends are doing, but they can still get to their goals when they are ready.
And colleges and universities look at students in context. They will take things like health challenges or personal issues into account and they won’t hold it against an applicant if they worked hard at gaining the required qualifications a little later or in a different way than most other students. In fact, it might even help them stand out. If in doubt and your child has some specific goals, get in touch with a potential training provider, college or uni and ask what they would be looking for if your teen would want to apply in the future. Then you can get an idea of the most suitable plan Bs, Cs and Ds…
Tackle the future when they are ready
So, reassure your teen, and yourself, that the education and career stuff can be tackled when they are ready. But before everything else, they should focus on getting better, so they are ready to make the most of the opportunities out there.
If you would like some personalised support when they are ready to explore their options, have a look at the individual careers guidance sessions I offer here. And if you feel they could do with some inspiration for careers ideas linked to their interest so far, have a look at my career inspiration booklet here.