You’re changing majors again?? You want to do what?!? As the cost of college continues to rise, many, if not most students (and parents) are feeling pressure to get it right; to know what they want to do, and then take the most direct route possible to get there. Transferring schools, changing majors, or even taking a few exploratory classes, is costly financially and time wise, often pushing back graduation dates. Average college costs around the nation? Check it out here.
So, how can we help students stress less and move toward the best possible campus and career choice for them? As a coach, I believe it comes down to helping students articulate:
- What their unique natural gifts and talents are
- Something they have a keen interest in that others don’t necessarily share
- What they are passionate about
- Ways they see themselves using their talents & passion to help others
This combination is incredibly powerful in moving students toward choosing a field of study that will uniquely fit them. The questions above are simply a starting place . . . digging in and really exploring where they lead will create a rich and rewarding experience full of “aha moments.”
Some of you may be thinking, umm, where are the questions about annual salary and earning a living? I don’t ask students to think about how they will earn a living initially. While this is obviously important, when that question becomes the driving force in making a life decision, students begin to lose the ability to see the connections between passion, purpose, and fulfillment in their career choices. Sustainability questions are most beneficial once students can articulate their talents, interests, passion, and how they want to use those things to make a difference.
Narrowing schools down is now the easy part. Besides the obvious questions of “do they offer the field of study I want to go into” and “are they generous with financial aid”, some things to consider when choosing a school are:
- What is the campus culture like? Online campus newspapers can be a fun way to get an insider’s view.
- What is the school known for? Engineering? Business? Nursing? If it isn’t your chosen field, what would cause you to consider the school? What are the potential benefits of looking further?
- What is campus housing like? Are all the dorms co-ed? Are the bathrooms co-ed? What is important to you when it comes to your living arrangements?
- Do students and faculty care about the things you care about? More and more campuses are known for something outside of academic programs such as being environmentally conscience, being focused on social justice, or even for programs developed especially for teens who have aged out of foster care.
Choosing a school and major doesn’t need to look like a shot in the dark where students hope to stumble onto what they want to do, nor should it be an immensely stressful process. Experiencing the independence of going to college, and beginning the process of creating a fulfilling future is exciting and fun. The process of choosing a major and school can be too!
Brenda is an ICF certified Academic Life Coach and trains youth advocates in the Academic Life Coaching 1.0 coach training program. She has 14 years of experience working with college students, is an adoptive parent, youth advocate and a licensed therapeutic foster parent. To learn more and schedule a free academic life coaching consultation for yourself or the student in your life, please click here.