Only one of my three children knew what they wanted to do by 18 or so. And even she has altered the picture somewhat. (She is a nurse.) Her sister at that age wanted to be a doctor one day and a diesel mechanic the next. She designed her own Bachelor's degree in "Sustainable Communities" and then decided she didn't want to work with non-profits. At 24 she decided she wanted to go to law school. Since starting law school she has become less sure about the kind of law she wants to practice. And my son? He may want to be a game designer or a chef or a librarian. Or something else.
The advice I would give ... is that the most important preparation skills/orientations today are:
* Metacognition (thinking about thinking)
I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I guess I was lucky. Or maybe just not brave enough to think outside the box. But in my life I have had to be creative and flexible and resourceful. In addition to teaching a variety of subjects Pre-K through college , I have also worked as a bookkeeper, a nursing assistant, a mental health technician, an egg handler, a health club receptionist, a drug store cashier, and probably a few other things I can't remember right now. Right now I am teaching at a college. But what will I be doing in 10 years? Who knows?
As Kathy says, this isn't the the world of the parents of the 1950s, the world of my parents. We need to encourage our kids -- and ourselves -- to take Kathy's advice.