Colleges

Major Dilemmas in Choosing Colleges and College Programs

If your child is like most, there is likely some uncertainty revolving around college majors. Perhaps they are vacillating between two or more majors. They may even be completely lost, and don’t have a major in mind at all. Sometimes there is even some conflict if your child has chosen a major that you disagree with. One of the criterion that you can use to choose a school is academic offerings, and so it does help if your student knows what their major is so that you can choose a school that has a good degree program related to that major, but it is important to remember that the specific major is not the only consideration. Before you attempt to pressure your child into choosing a major, or picking a different major, here are some things to consider.

My child does not know what major he or she wants to choose

This is very common. Sometimes a child has a general idea; they want to do something with psychology, or something with economics, but they do not know exactly what. In this case, it’s fairly easy to find schools that have good programs in the general area of study, even if your child does not know the specifics. If your student is totally unsure, then look for schools that have high ratings in a variety of programs. This will give your child exposure to several different disciplines

My child is interested in a discipline that the parents disagree with

As parents, we tend to be fairly practical. We want our children to get a good education in a discipline that will help them become successful in their future careers. From this point of view, there is often resistance when your child tells you he wants to major in philosophy, or history, or theater. Sometimes these disciplines can be perceived as less desirable because they are not commonly sought after by a large number of employers. Here are some thoughts on this.

When you look at the degree programs that students have taken, often they do not match completely with the jobs they end up taking. While a philosophy or history major could become a professor or teacher, and a theater major could become an actor or director, often graduates from these programs end up in completely different fields. Many entry level positions request that an applicant have a bachelor degree, but do not specify the type of degree desired. It’s also important to remember that this is your child’s education and their future career, not yours. It’s always good to give your input and advice, but eventually it is your child’s choice.

Majors change and schools change

The majority of students who are enrolled in college change their major at least once during their college career. As they grow during their college years, your student is likely to change their major. A student with no major can typically be undeclared for the freshman and sometimes even the sophomore year of college. A bachelor degree includes some prerequisite classes that are similar regardless of the degree program chosen. Even if your student changes or waits a while to declare their major, they will have gotten some of those prerequisite classes out of the way.

Most schools are accredited, which means that the credits transfer from one school to the next. If your child finds themselves in a college and changes their major to something else, they can choose to change schools to find a better degree program for that major.

My child could take a year off before starting school to figure things out

This is tempting. Your child is still young, still figuring out who he or she is. Still, students who “take a year off” are far more likely to put off college even longer, or not attend at all. You are better off getting your kid enrolled in school right away and let them figure out their path while they are attending.

Our main advice to parents is to let the student drive the process. Give your advice and even your preferences, but remember that the end choice is really your child’s. It’s important to be patient, and let them figure out which direction they want to take their lives.

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