Selecting the right college major is critical to academic and life success. Students in a major they enjoy and are interested in are more likely to get good grades, pursue competitive internships in their field of study, and, ultimately, land a job or graduate program in their major field of study. Students who do not enjoy their major often become disenchanted with the college experience. They often become frustrated with their class schedule, get easily bored, are less likely to seek help in understanding difficult concepts, and, as a result, suffer acedemically.
Parents can play an important role in assisting their son or daughter in selecting a major. As with other advice that parents may seek to offer their children, parents should maintain a healthy balance between drawing on their own experiences and allowing their child to make an independent decision.
Deciding on a career path is important to a college-age person. They generally recognize the critical nature of the decision, and the impact it will have on their life. For this reason, it is important for the student to feel invested in the decision-making process. They need to be a participant, not a mere follower. If they feel pressured to choose a major to conform to their parents’ wishes, they are less likely to work towards achievement in the major area.
That being said, parents have important life advice to offer. They should discuss the decision process they went through in selecting their major (since the factors are mostly the same today as decades ago) as well as any regrets they have. Additionally, parents should offer the practical effects of a major decision. While college is a time to experiment, it is also a time to find a profitable career. If a student is considering a major that does not offer a promising job market in the future, parents should say so. They should inform the child of the cost of an education, the prospect of high student debt and the level of income they will need to receive in order to pay for school. The more information the student has, the better decision they are likely to make.
Parents should also remain involved in the process after a student enters school. Many college students do not select a major in their first year, and many others often change their major. College students should experiment in a variety of classes to see what areas interest them. Parents can provide an important sounding board as students go through this process, helping them select the path that is right for them.