Technical Education

How to support students who are born to do 

During this time of wish lists and resolutions, parents, friends, and family members might want to take a minute and consider how they can best support high school and college students in STEM and related technical programs.  

At Dunwoody, we believe students who are born to do are amazing individuals. We also know that they can best unlock their potential when set up for success.  

Here are some ways to provide that support.  

Be understanding of a different learning style  

Even if you’re not someone with a technical mind, you probably know that learning styles vary, and some students may need to approach their work differently than you do.  

They may need quieter learning environments (nice ear plugs or noise canceling headphones can help here as can a dedicated workspace) or may need to listen to music or white noise or podcasts to help them focus.  

They may need to get up and pace or be able to write on a white board.  

Talk to them about what works best for them and provide the space and tools as best you can.  

Encourage curiosity and creativity 

People who are curious about how things work — and how to make them work better — are often some of the most successful technical education students. In a world driven by information and technology, curiosity and creativity are powerful traits.  

Some of the curiosity will be channeled into their schoolwork. But students who are born to do also enjoy exploring other avenues that are related to their interests.  

The holidays are a great time to give subscriptions; memberships to museums and other programs; tools, gear, and software; relevant books, games, and films; and more. You could also plan day trips to interesting locations related to their industry or art/craft/maker sessions at local spaces. 

Even if it’s for just a few hours each month, being able to immerse themselves in the things they enjoy helps technical students recharge their curiosity and creativity. 

Embrace project-based learning 

Students in STEM and design programs will often have projects that they need to complete. Helping them acquire supplies is a big help. So is understanding that their initial design and build attempts might not work out and so they may need to make major adjustments mid-stream.  

Progress may not be as obvious and regular as reading a textbook and taking notes or working on problem sets.  

Also realize that the projects they work on are meant to teach them specific skills and ways of thinking and problem solving, and they sometimes may find it difficult to explain to you exactly what they’re doing and why.  

Be patient with them, especially during the final push to finish their projects. Provide healthy snacks and make sure they eat regular meals. 

Communicate on their terms 

Communication is a two-way street, but for non-traditional learners, there can be ways to make it easier and more productive.  

If they’re in Discord (or Instagram or some other app) all day and forget to check their texts and voicemails, see if they’d be open to you messaging them in their app of choice. You could even consider setting up a Discord server for the household/family.  

With in-person communication, it could be useful to set up some sort of visual system so you know when they are open to being interrupted while working/studying and when to leave them alone unless it’s an emergency. This could be cards with red (please don’t interrupt), yellow (only interrupt if it’s urgent), and green (okay to interrupt) lights on them or print outs of representative emojis or an open/closed sign. 

The value of technical education 

A technical degree provides a direct path to the workforce. Many technical education students not only graduate with less debt, they earn as much in their first year of employment as those who hold graduate and post-graduate degrees.   

Completing a technical degree can be an intense process. Even though the end result is rewarding, the path there takes a lot of determination and perseverance.  

Providing support for students pursuing these pathways is a reward in and of itself. And not only because it contributes to their success, but also because they go on and have a positive impact on the world.  

For more information on how to support technical students at Dunwoody, visit the Parents & Families page. Also see our guide on How to Be Successful in High-Tech Careers

Have a tip for how to better support your students? Email us at