Choosing a College Major – 5 Tips to Taking a Different Approach

The stats on college majors are surprising to both students and parents alike.

  • Over 50% of students who have declared a major in college will change it at least once, many up to 3 times
  • Cost of changing a major is significant, $15,000+ due to delayed graduation and lost wages

These sobering stats demonstrate that students are unprepared and ill-informed when it comes to selecting a major.

How Did We Get Here?

Typically, students pick their college first, then their major, and finally junior or senior year, they start thinking about careers when it’s time to search for an internship or full-time employment.

How Can We Change the Outcome?

We want students to change their thinking. Instead of focusing on a college roadmap that is usually course-based to graduate, we want students to think more holistically in terms of a career roadmap. This roadmap combines academic plans with career components so students learn more about themselves and their career options before picking a major.

Just as importantly, if a student has already picked a major, it’s critical they learn what types of jobs they can do both within and outside their major so ideally, they don’t change it.

5 Things To Do Before Choosing or Switching a Major

  1. Conduct self-assessments – What do I love/hate to do? What are my gifts?
  2. Talk with Career Services to learn what assessments tests are available (Birkman, Myers/Briggs, Strong, or others) for free or at a reduced rate for students
  3. Read StrengthsFinders 2.0 and take the online assessment for only $15 http://www.amazon.com/StrengthsFinder-2-0-Tom-Rath/dp/159562015X
  4. Research career options and growth projections with the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook handbook http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
  5. Check out O*Net Online http://www.onetonline.org for specifics on job roles

The good news – there are great resources available. The key is to make the decision to invest the time. Trust me, the investment is worth it as it can save you money now and positively affect the next 30-40 years of your life.

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