Could #Covid-19 have helped today’s teens make wiser decisions about their futures than ever before? YES! Read my latest blog for details!
The pandemic changed our lives, no doubt about it. As adults, we have been processing the necessary restrictions, losses, and inevitable changes to our daily routines with fully formed brains. But teens, whose brains are not fully formed yet, are trying to make sense of the loss of security of life as they knew it to be. For most, this is one of the hardest transitions they have yet had to learn to navigate.
From a teen’s perspective, the entire foundation of their lives was completely stripped away without warning causing many, who otherwise would be able to comfortably live in the twilight of childhood, to shut down, reject current plans, and have a difficult time making any new plans. Why? Because there is now this innate fear that at any given moment, everything they love and hold dear could be stripped away again.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as a result of our country’s lock down I have seen teens become much more purposeful in making their post-graduation plans in the following ways:
Teens are becoming more hesitant to make decisions: Like all of us, the pandemic caused teens to lose connections with everything they had known. Unlike us they were not as aware of how important those things were to them. Most teens hadn’t experienced loss and disruptions to their lives on this scale before. Having that experience now has ushered in a new level of awareness causing them to hesitate before making any post-high school plans..
Teens are becoming more intentional in their decision making: Before the pandemic, teens rarely slowed down enough to really think about what they were choosing to do with their lives after high school. Having been given the space and time they are now exploring options they may once have considered too big or even out of their reach and are choosing to explore what is out there for them beyond the typical.
Teens are becoming less likely to incur massive debt: According to this Forbes article, there are currently 44.7 million Americans who collectively owe nearly $1.6 TRILLION. The average average student loan debt is $32,731 with an average monthly payment for 10 years of: $393. Today’s teens are wholly aware of the debt crisis and many have watched the additional financial toll this pandemic has created. Many are less likely to incur debt as a result. This has caused many to rethink their plans and adjust as they examine their new financial realities
Teens are becoming more aware of the “business” of higher education: Many first-year college students during the pandemic experienced a whole new side to higher education. While classes were almost all online, tuition rates did not decrease and in some cases housing contracts were not allowed to be broken even though students chose to work on their online courses from home with family rather than quarantine in isolation in their dorm rooms. As a result many felt the sting of having to pay full price for something for which they did not receive the full experience they paid for. The result has been more hesitation for this current class who watched their friends’ experience and are wondering if it’s worth it.
Teens are choosing to live by the “life is too short, eat dessert first” mentality: Many teens lost so much due to the pandemic that they are realizing just how important living life actually is. Travel, meeting up with friends, and spending time with family have become higher on teens’ priority list as a result. Instead of putting their proverbial noses to the grindstone immediately after graduation they are investing in taking time to “smell the roses” instead. This does not mean they will be forever stalled but that they will likely take their time to figure out what’s most important to them and how to incorporate those things into any future plans they make.
What does this all mean?
Today’s teens, because of the pandemic, are making wiser decisions about their futures than ever before.
What more could we ask for from our teens than to slow down and become more intentional in their decision making, give pause about paying attention to their personal debt threshold, and develop the perspective that life should be enjoyed?
Maybe we all need to look at our post-pandemic life choices like today’s teens. If we do, we may end up building the lives we really wanted all along.
How cool would that be?