Archive for January 26th, 2010

Another “Age Old Question”

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Another “Age Old Question”

If you are a current college student, are you always being asked, “What is your major?”

If you have one, why did you pick that one?  Does the question annoy you because you feel that you are going to have to explain your decision? Perhaps you are not even sure why, thus making you feel more uncomfortable.

I completely understand if you are. But if you have already completed our insightful self-assessment and still are not comfortable with your academic direction, return to that online link now. It is resource to access all during your college years. (Call me if it has been misplaced.) One of things that we help students with while they are still in high school is to identify their innate characteristics. That is, what are their natural strengths and weaknesses that make up their core personality?

Personalities, (barring some chemical changes in the body) pretty much remain the same throughout our lifetime. Interests, aptitudes and attitudes change. So, why not understand and appreciate who you are and explore the possibilities that stem from there?

Our educational system is set up to take us from secondary school, where we are supposed to get a solid grounding in the basic academic subjects, and then on to college where we get to pick the courses we want.  Assuming college is necessary, however, are you in college to learn what you want, or are you there to learn what someone else wants? Whether it is a well-meaning parent or prospective employer in a field that you are told, “pays well”?

Recent Stanford University graduate, Scott Keys, has shared what I believe to be a very helpful insight relating his observations and recommendations. Hopefully, you are getting the kind of advice from your college advisors as to choosing a major that is personal to you and not “cookie cutter”.

As he says, choosing a major is an important decision and “students are right to seek outside counsel when figuring out what they want to study”. Give us a call or contact us at the right, if you want to explore the possibilities. It all starts with a FREE “get acquainted” conversation.

Stop Asking Me My Major

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Stop Asking Me My Major 

By Scott Keyes 

One of my best friends from high school, Andrew, changed majors during his first semester at college. He and I had been fascinated by politics for years, sharing every news story we could find and participating in the Internet activism that was exploding into a new political force. Even though he was still passionate about politics, that was no longer enough. “I have to get practical,” he messaged me one day, “think about getting a job after graduation. I mean, it’s like my mom keeps asking me: What can you do with a degree in political science anyway?” 

I heard the same question from my friend Jesse when students across campus were agonizing about which major was right for them. He wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to study, but every time a field sparked his interest, his father would pepper him with questions about what jobs were available for people in that discipline. Before long, Jesse’s dad had convinced him that the only way he could get a job and be successful after college was to major in pre-med. 

My friends’ experiences were not atypical. 

Choosing a major is one of the most difficult things students face in college. There are two main factors that most students consider when making this decision. First is their desire to study what interests them. Second is the fear that a particular major will render them penniless after graduation and result in that dreaded postcollege possibility: moving back in with their parents. 

All too often, the concern about a major’s practical prospects are pushed upon students by well-intentioned parents. If our goal is to cultivate students who are happy and successful, both in college as well as in the job market, I have this piece of advice for parents: Stop asking, “What can you do with a degree in (fill in the blank)?” You’re doing your children no favors by asking them to focus on the job prospects of different academic disciplines, rather than studying what interests them. 

It is my experience, both through picking a major myself and witnessing many others endure the process, that there are three reasons why parents (and everyone else) should be encouraging students to focus on what they enjoy studying most, rather than questioning what jobs are supposedly available for different academic concentrations.