Choosing a college major is a big decision for college students. How important is this decision and does it really make a difference in their careers? The truth is, it’s often the first step down a career path but it doesn’t have to be a one-way street. College instructors can help play a role and guide students with the decision of selecting a major.
The selection of a major should be 100 percent the student’s choice. Those students out of high school may not have enough life experience to know how to evaluate such a selection. This is where college instructors can lend a helpful, objective hand by offering to be a resource to guide students in their journey of a major selection.
When it comes to committing to a college major, help students understand that their post-graduate career story has time to unfold, lest they have buyer’s remorse on picking a major. Whether they’re interested in your field of study or a different one, instructors are in a position to help students help themselves when it comes to picking a major field of study by taking a few simple actions:
Give your time. Make yourself available to chat with students outside of class about major selection. Use student meetings to ask open-ended questions like, “where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years?” or “What do you like to do with your time and are you interested to work in this area for a career?” Encourage them to look within at their strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests to help inform their choice of major.
Be a connector. Offer to introduce students to the right business professionals or college staff who might be helpful resources. If you bring a guest lecturer into the class, ask the lecturer to speak with students about major selection and career choices. Suggest that students take advantage of the college’s career planning resources to get a better sense of how majors line up with jobs in the marketplace.
Encourage perspective. Help students understand that major selection does not define their future. A magical part of the college experience is experiencing a range of life choices and possibilities with an eye to the future. Nourish this sense of wonder and encourage students to explore all their options. Majors can be changed while in college. And, many people graduate from college and go on to have rewarding careers and they don't work in their major field of study. So, stress to students that while selecting a major is important, it’s not the all-defining factor for their career.
Choosing a major is an important step in the college experience. While it doesn’t always define the future, it is a choice students should make themselves. College instructors are in a prime position to be a resource and a point of reference for students to help be a resource for their decision.