Choosing a major can be a daunting experience for students. After all, it affects everything from the classes they will take and the people they will connect with to the types of internships and careers they might have.
Understandably, students can grow anxious about choosing a major. Some put it off. Others bunny-hop from major to major hoping one will feel right. Some fall into a choice without considering their reasons for the choice. And some students even decide to take a break from college.
How can parents help during this important decision-making process? In the Loop asked SPU faculty, staff, and parents for practical insights.
Margaret Brown Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology, Chair of SPU's Undergraduate Psychology Department, and Chair of the Admissions, Advising, and Retention Committee
What if my student is undecided on a major?
Faculty advisors and academic counselors will connect students with the resources they need to find a major. Until students are accepted into a major, they must meet quarterly with a faculty advisor to discuss their academic plan. This advisor will encourage students to explore various academic and career paths, and will help students eventually get connected to a faculty advisor in their major.
What resources are available to help students find a major?
The Center for Career and Calling is a hub for these resources. The CCC provides classes in Major and Career Exploration, an annual Majors Fair, online testing to help students discern areas of interest, and extensive web resources with information about majors and careers.
What resources are available for parents?
The Center for Career and Calling also has great web resources for parents. If you believe your student needs additional support, please have your student contact a Student Financial Services counselor, Student Academic Services counselor, faculty advisor, Career and Calling counselor, or staff member in the Center for Learning.
Career Counselor in SPU's Center for Career and Calling
My advice is to reduce the pressure around choosing the "right" major for one's "life plan." The goal should be to find a major that is right for their college experience, without worrying about what lifelong career it might equate to. They should chose a major that they find interesting and that makes them excited to go to class every day.
Beyond that, encourage your student to add to their education by experiencing things such as campus activities and leadership, study abroad, volunteer or work experiences, internships and job shadows. I think that experiences while in college may impact future career choices as much if not more than one's choice of undergraduate major.
Here's an article from Education.com that may give more insight.
Accountant and Business Agent in SPU's Center for Professional Education
Encourage them to major in something that they find interesting. If they're in a major for the wrong reasons — parental pressure, job market, peer pressure, salary — then they face a greater challenge to stay the course when the going gets tough. If it's something they like that they choose, they'll have greater motivation to continue.
Challenges and pressures during many students' sophomore year — especially when students need to declare a major — lead to a lull known as a "sophomore slump."Learn more.