For some students, deciding on a college major takes no effort at all. Others may choose to take a few intro courses to get a feel for their interests. Should college students pursue a major based on a skill or hobby they excel at or one that may result in the biggest salary or job security? Choosing a major is a big step in your students’ college careers, but doing so will also allow them to begin setting short and long-term goals for their education, which is always something to encourage!

Motivate your students to explore careers until they settle on what they want they want to study. In The Confident Student, Eighth Edition, Carol C. Kanar offers a list of tips to help get your students off to a good start as they think ahead to their majors and careers. We’ve shared her list below:

  • Chart your academic course. Meet with your advisor, who will help you to come up with an academic plan, select the right courses, and make sure you meet all requirements.
  • Assess your interests and values to find a major or career that is right for you. A major or career should allow you to take advantage of your strengths and should reflect what you like doing and what is important to you.
  • Talk to students whose majors interest you. Ask them about their courses and what their career plans are. Talk to people who are already working in a career you like. Find out what they do, what their day is like, and how they prepared themselves for that job.
  • Make sure that you choose a major for the right reasons. The work you do should reflect what you want out of life rather than fulfill what someone else wants for you. Whether you come from a family of lawyers or one of accountants, do not feel that you have to carry on that tradition if it is not something that you would enjoy doing.
  • Consider a certificate program in a field such as hospitality management, physical therapy, graphic design, and so on. Or, if you cannot decide on a major, consider getting an AA (associate of arts) degree that will allow you to take general education courses to apply to a major when you decide what you want to do. (7)

Once your students have selected a program or major based on a tentative career choice, deciding what courses to take is their subsequent task and the next big step of their college adventure.

Reference: Kanar, Carol C. 2014. The Confident Student, Eighth Edition. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

What tips and tricks do you offer your students when they ask you for career and major advice? Share your recommendations below.