Choosing a college major can be overwhelming, especially because colleges offer a much broader array of academic opportunities than high schools. Teens will often look to their parents for advice and validation. Below are a few tips to help guide your teen through the process of choosing a college major.
Before offering your best advice, listen to what your teen is asking of you. Teens often look to their parents for validation and are met with instruction. This is frustrating for teens, as it signals that you do not trust them to make their own decisions. Before offering advice, act as a sounding board for your teen. It can be really difficult to know something that could help your teen but withhold that information. Nonetheless, it is important that your teen feels they have come to this decision on their own. Help them identify their difficulties in choosing a college major and come up with solutions independently. Only once they have explicitly asked for your advice, should you give them specific instructions.
Take Inventory of their Goals
While college serves many purposes, it is ultimately a springboard to something bigger, whether that be graduate school, a career, or the military. Talk to your teen about what they want to do after college. They may not have any specific path in mind, but they should think about what paths they would like to open up. A rigorous STEM track can lead to medical school, dental school, veterinary school, and many more opportunities. Your teen does not need to know that they want to follow one of these specific career tracks to know that they want to keep that option open.
Help them Research
There are plenty of resources to help your teen find the right major. They should try to find a major that helps them develop their strengths while appealing to their interests. Using personality tests like the Myers Briggs or the Strong Interest Inventory test can help your teen identify occupational fields that are a good fit for them. Your teen should also reach out to their top choice’s admissions office to connect with a current student or professor in their field of interest. While there is plenty of good advice that they can find on the internet or from their guidance counselor, each college’s academic programs are unique and they will not know for sure if they are a good fit until they directly interact with their program of choice.
Senior year of high school is often the first time teens are asked to make a major decision and they are suddenly inundated with lots of decisions to make. Using these tips will help your teen feel confident in their choice of major and develop the skills to make important decisions in the future.
By Emma Sturgis
Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2