My daughter is a high school freshman. The time has flown by. It’s hard to believe that I only have another three years with her living at home. Then she’ll be off to college to make her mark in the world. She is planning to go to college and is very excited about it.
Recently, she had to research a college, select a college as well as a choose a major for a school assignment. She asked for my help and I was thrilled. She chose the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (grandparents live there) and Marketing and Communications Concentration as a major.
She has many talents which makes it difficult to choose a college major. After narrowing down all of the potential options, it’s still challenging to make that final choice. I don’t expect her to make any decisions at this point because it’s early. However, we have started the conversation and have begun exploring. Based on my experience and the data out there, most college students change majors the first couple of years and life goes on. I just don’t want her to be on the six-year plan especially not on our dime.
I’ve been able to pull from my experience as a former higher education administrator in Career Services. The college she chooses to attend and the major she selects is her decision. Although, as parents, we do have a say as far as costs and affordability, unless she gets a full scholarship. We are not counting on that, but it would be fantastic.
I’ve consistently stressed that she make an informed decision. The more information you have, the more you know and the more secure you’ll feel. However, that does not mean a change of major will not happen but it doesn’t hurt to prepare.
These are the strategies that we are using to help prepare for college.
Complete assessments and interest inventories that help you to discover your interests, abilities, likes and dislikes. Many high schools offer them. Working with a counselor to help with further interpretation can be beneficial. She completed the Self Directed Search Assessment by John Holland. It’s a paper pencil assessment that is self scored. This assessment is relatively easy to understand but can be more insightful if completed with the help of a counselor. I helped her to interpret the assessment since I am a Counselor. The key is, if you pursue something you enjoy and are good at, you’ll most likely be more focused and fulfilled.
Use the internet to learn about jobs and careers. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook is my go to resource to learn about careers. It describes the job, work experience required, education, number employed in that job, the work environment, pay, and job outlook. The handbook is also available in hard copy at most libraries.
Try not to think of selecting a major in terms of “this is what I am going to do for the rest of my life”. That’s overwhelming for anyone. There is a good chance that a change of major may occur and it’s not the end of the world. Besides, majors do not always translate into a specific job. You can use transferable skills to work in a variety of environments and positions.
Research colleges that offer the major that you are interested in. Request materials and compare. My daughter has an interest in Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising. We learned that Public Relations and Advertising at some colleges are in the Communications Department. We assumed that they would fall under business.
Talk to people who are working in fields that you are interested in. Job shadowing is a great way to learn about careers. Most people enjoy talking about their work especially if they enjoy what they do.
Talk to college students who are majoring in your area of interest. We talked with some college students at a Black History Event who were happy to share their experiences in their major. We live in a suburban college town that is home to a university that has an enrollment of 10,500 students. College students are everywhere.
Investigate the extracurricular activities that are available at the college or university. Singing in a choir instead of majoring in music or voice might be a great way to continue with special interests that you may have.
Visit colleges. We enjoy traveling as a family. If we have time, we try to make it a point to visit a college or university in the area just for fun. We visited Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston last summer. We toured the historic Harvard University. I am a native of the area, so it was fun to share this experience with my family. In general, we just want her to get a feel for different types of campuses; large, small, urban, suburban, private, and public.
I’m looking forward to enjoying the next three years with my daughter. I’m excited to see where she ends up and what she chooses to study.
Have a great day!
Peace and Blessings,