Figuring out what to major in can be one of the greatest challenges for undergraduate students. While some have been sure about their path from an early age, many more wrestle back and forth between options, and some have no idea whatsoever what they want to do with the rest of their lives. That can be the biggest barrier of all. Thinking that your major has to influence what you do for the next 50 to 60 years makes anything feel too extreme to commit to. But college is expensive, and the program you child chooses will have a significant impact on their future. While you can’t make the decision for them, there are a few ways you can help a struggling college student choose the right major.
Compare the Cost of Each Program
Different career paths have different financial obligations tied to them. Earning your four-year bachelor’s at a state school will cost ten times as much at an Ivy League university. If your child is contemplating a career that requires a graduate program, like med school or law school, the monetary commitment is even greater. Cost can be both a pro and con when it comes to education, and it’s useful to consider the ultimate price of every program in terms of both financial and time investments. As a parent, you can encourage your child to compare different schools and tuition prices as well as consider how much student debt they’re comfortable taking on. If you want to help them financially, you may consider applying for a private parent loan to help cover the costs that come along with college tuition.
Explore Potential Careers in Depth
Most degrees open the door to more than one career opportunity, but not all of them are easy to enter. Some may not even be desirable to your student. Someone who loves reading and is considering an English literature degree may have no desire to become a teacher or writer, two of the most common career ambitions in the major. Schools often provide a list of potential jobs linked to a particular degree, which you can explore more thoroughly by researching each title on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. This will help your child get an idea of what a career is actually like, where they would work and what their salary could be.
Ask Them What They Love to Do
One of the most effective ways to come up with a career goal is to think about what you love doing. This could be writing, drawing, making music, helping others or anything in between. Encourage your student to write down a list of their favorite activities and skills that go along with them. Some may not seem to have any career potential at first glance, but if you dig deeper, you can start to draw parallels between their interests and job fields.
Let your child know that they don’t have to figure out their entire lives while they’re in college. Even if they change careers multiple times throughout their lives, a degree will still be a valuable asset to them as a working professional. In addition to speaking with their advisor and school counselor, you should also encourage your student to consider pursuing a liberal arts degree. For those who have a broader range of interests and want to consider multiple fields, a liberal arts degree can help them build a nuanced degree from the ground-up.