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Parents: How to Help Your Child Choose a College Major

Choosing a major early on in the college admissions process can be beneficial for several reasons. Students can align their interests and extracurriculars with their intended major, apply for summer programs and internships to help prepare them and raise their student profile for selective schools. This can increase their chances of admission to programs that align with their interests and career goals.

Moreover, having a clear idea of their intended major can also guide your child’s course selection during high school. They can focus on taking relevant courses and participating in extracurricular activities that support their chosen field, demonstrating their commitment and passion to the admissions committee.

It’s crucial to understand that some colleges have a limited number of spots in certain competitive majors or programs. By indicating a specific major early on, your child can secure a place in these sought-after programs, ensuring they don’t miss out on valuable opportunities and setting them on a path to academic and professional success.chances of securing a spot in these programs. This awareness can help you and your child make informed decisions about their college admissions journey.

As a parent, you can help your child make this important decision by encouraging exploration and self-reflection. This will include exploring different subjects, participating in internships or job shadowing opportunities, and conversing with professionals in fields they are interested in. Parents can also provide guidance and support as they research potential career paths, college majors, and corresponding job prospects.

Here are some practical strategies that might helpful

Understand Their Passion and Skills

Conversations about academic majors in college are essential for guiding your child towards a path that aligns with their interests and strengths. The initial step involves understanding their passions and what ignites their curiosity. Encourage open discussions about various subjects and activities that captivate them, whether it’s technology, the arts, or science. These interests serve as valuable indicators for identifying suitable college majors. By evaluating their academic strengths and weaknesses together, you can further refine their options.

For instance, a child proficient in math and science may flourish in fields like engineering or physics, while one with a penchant for writing and communication might find fulfillment in journalism or literature. These conversations foster clarity and confidence as your child embarks on their academic journey, ensuring that their chosen major resonates with their genuine interests and aptitudes.

Together, evaluate their academic strengths and weaknesses. Remember, the goal is to align their intended major with their natural inclinations and talents, which will likely lead to academic and professional success.

Research and Explore

Once you have a clear idea of your child’s interests and skills, the next step is to research potential college majors that align with these areas. This phase should involve examining the majors themselves and potential career paths. Researching college majors and potential career paths is a pivotal phase in a student’s academic journey, guiding them towards a fulfilling and successful future. Look at Students can search for careers with keywords and browse by industry.

Exploration begins with introspection as students reflect on their interests, passions, and strengths. Identifying what subjects they enjoy and excel in lays the foundation for a purposeful search. Next comes the immersion into the vast array of majors offered by colleges and universities. Through diligent investigation, students can dive into the specifics of each major by utilizing resources such as college websites, academic guides, and career exploration platforms.

Students should read about the requirements, coursework, and potential career trajectories associated with various fields of study. This process is not merely about selecting a major; it’s about envisioning a future career.

Students embark on a journey of discovery, exploring different professions, job prospects, salary potentials, and market trends. They seek guidance from professionals in their desired fields, engaging in informational interviews and job shadowing experiences to gain invaluable insights. Armed with knowledge and understanding, students focus on the specifics of each major’s curriculum.

They investigate the subjects they will study, the core requirements, and any prerequisite courses. This meticulous examination provides clarity and direction, enabling students to make informed decisions about their academic pursuits. Beyond the confines of research students may also visit college campuses to immerse themselves in the academic environment firsthand.

These experiences offer a tangible glimpse into their future academic endeavors and aid in determining the compatibility of a college with their aspirations. Throughout this journey, exploration is encouraged, and flexibility is embraced. It’s a dynamic process wherein students evolve, refine their interests, and adapt their goals accordingly. Ultimately, researching college majors and potential career paths is not merely a task; it’s a transformative experience that empowers students to shape their academic and professional destinies.

Engage in Open Dialogue

Navigating the primary selection of colleges can indeed be overwhelming for a young adult, but maintaining open communication is key to easing the process. Encouraging discussions about their fears, concerns, and expectations creates a supportive environment where doubts can be addressed and choices solidified. Framing the conversation around their future and the abundant opportunities that the right college major can offer will provide clarity and motivation. It’s crucial to remind students that uncertainty is natural and that many successful individuals have changed majors or careers along their journey. By emphasizing the fluidity of paths and the potential for growth and adaptation, you instill confidence in your child to explore their options with an open mind, knowing that their decisions can evolve as they do.

Experts recommend that you frame the conversation around their future and the vast opportunities that exist once they get to college. It is also essential to remind students that many successful people have changed majors or careers.

Their choice isn’t set in stone but is a fantastic starting point for students who are in the exploration phase. Bringing in a college counselor to discuss the options would allow the student to connect with someone other than their parents. Students often report increased confidence and enthusiasm when learning about the myriad of college majors and career options that are available to them.

Encourage Real-World Exposure

Encouraging your child to consider real-world experiences when contemplating a college major and future career is crucial for their holistic development and informed decision-making. By actively engaging in internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, and job shadowing opportunities, they can gain invaluable insights into different professions, understand the day-to-day realities of various career paths, and identify their passions and strengths. These experiences provide a tangible context for academic learning, allowing them to bridge the gap between theory and practice while fostering essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. By embracing real-world experiences, your child can make informed decisions about their college major and career path, setting themselves up for success and fulfillment in the future.

Here are some suggestions to facilitate this:

1. Internships and Apprenticeships: Encourage your child to seek out internships or apprenticeships in fields they are interested in. These opportunities provide hands-on experience and insights into what a career in that field entails.
2. Part-Time Jobs: Encourage your child to take on part-time jobs related to their potential majors or interests. Even entry-level positions can offer valuable experience and help them understand the day-to-day responsibilities of various professions.
3. Job Shadowing: Help your child arrange job shadowing opportunities with professionals in different fields. This allows them to observe firsthand what professionals do and ask questions about their work.
4. Volunteer Work: Encourage your child to volunteer in organizations or projects related to their interests. Volunteering can provide valuable experience, build skills, and offer insight into potential career paths.
5. Informational Interviews: Help your child connect with professionals working in fields they are interested in and arrange informational interviews. These interviews allow them to learn more about different career paths, required qualifications, and day-to-day responsibilities.
6. Research Projects: Encourage your child to undertake research projects or participate in extracurricular activities related to their potential majors. This can help them gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and explore their interests further.
7. Online Courses and Workshops: Explore online courses, workshops, or seminars related to their potential majors. These can provide valuable skills and knowledge while allowing your child to explore different areas of interest from the comfort of their own home.
8. Networking Events: Encourage your child to attend networking events, career fairs, or industry conferences to meet professionals and learn more about different career paths within their potential majors.

By actively engaging in real-world experiences, your child can gain valuable insights into various college majors, understand their practical implications, and make informed decisions about their future academic and career paths.

These opportunities provide a firsthand look at the day-to-day activities involved in a profession. The real-world experience can also strengthen their resolve and lead them to reconsider their choices.

Discuss Financial Implications

It is crucial to discuss the financial aspects of pursuing various college majors. Some fields may require advanced degrees. It may lead to more time and monetary investment.

Discussing the financial aspects of pursuing different college majors is crucial as it allows individuals to make informed decisions about their academic and career paths. Certain fields, such as medicine, law, or engineering, may require advanced degrees, leading to additional time and monetary investment. By openly discussing the potential costs associated with obtaining these degrees and comparing them to potential earning potentials and job prospects, students can weigh the financial implications against their interests and career aspirations. Understanding the long-term financial commitments of pursuing specific majors empowers individuals to make strategic decisions that align with their financial goals and minimize potential debt burdens. Additionally, exploring alternative paths, such as scholarships, grants, or part-time work opportunities, can help mitigate financial concerns and make higher education more accessible to a broader range of students.

Parents should talk about your family’s financial capacity and the potential return on investment that certain careers might offer. An informed decision also includes discussing possible scholarships that may help you during your studies.

You can also discuss the average salary after a degree with your student. It will help them make a more informed decision.

This conversation should also cover the cost of college itself, including tuition, books, and living expenses if a child needs to move to another city. A transparent discussion about finances can help your child make practical decisions that align with their career aspirations and financial realities.

Utilize Guidance Resources

While parents are a significant source of support, professional college counselors play a crucial role in helping your child choose a college major. These professionals can offer insights into which majors best suit your child’s strengths and career goals.

They can also provide information on the latest trends in education and the labor market, which can influence the decision-making process. Most college counselors do not spend much time on helping students to identify a major.

Greenhaus College Consulting utilizes The Strong Interest Inventory® which is an assessment that helps students to match their interests with educational, and career goals by using an individual’s preferences in a variety of areas to aid them in discovering potential career options. Students identify their work personality by exploring their interests in six broad areas: realistic, artistic, investigative, social, enterprising, and conventional. They will receive a copy of their test results and a follow up assignment to help them further explore their interests.


The journey to choose a college major is a team effort—one where you and your child can collaborate for a promising future.

Support your child in making a decision that feels right to them based on the knowledge they have gathered and the self-awareness they have developed. Reassure them that you will support their choice.

If, despite your guidance, your child still can’t choose a major, it’s important to remain patient and supportive. Remind them that it’s okay not to have all the answers right away and that many students enter college as undecided majors. Encourage them to explore their interests through elective courses, clubs, and internships during their first year of college. Additionally, reassure them that it’s common for students to change majors or explore different paths throughout their college journey. Encourage open communication and offer your support as they navigate this decision-making process.

Remember that the journey is as significant as the destination!

Your support and guidance are invaluable as they step into this new and exciting phase of their life. For Additional Resources –

Big Future – College Board

University of South Florida

Marquette University

Cal Lutheran University

CAREER ASSESSMENT: Greenhaus College Consulting utilizes The Strong Interest Inventory® which is an assessment that helps students to match their interests with educational, and career goals by using an individual’s preferences in a variety of areas to aid them in discovering potential career options. FAQ | GREENHAUS COLLEGE CONSULTING