The most important choice your college or vocational student will make is what they will major in. And yet, ask any current or graduate student about the level of truly personalized guidance they received from their post-secondary institution. They might laugh – as did the recent graduate I interviewed!
Understandably, academic counselors do not have the time to gather the kind of in-depth knowledge in which would drive a truly thoughtful decision regarding the choice of a major. The kind of decision your student deserves. The kind of decision that – when accurate and reliable – could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost opportunity costs (wasted classes, missed internships, post graduate unemployment) if your student wanders through college in a “career fog”. Academic counselors are not there to clear away the fog, they are there to make sure course requirements are met.
As college tuition is the second largest cost on your financial balance sheet, just below the mortgage, you and your student need to have chosen their major before they step foot in a counselor’s office! In fact, a comprehensive but concise academic strategy must be formulated in the case that your student decides the first major they chose is not working out.
Over the last five years, I have been finding that more and more college graduates are ending up on their parents couch because of poor pre-college planning.
Here’s a stark reality:
Students go into college either “undecided” or they choose some major using what they think to know about themselves. Let’s say its journalism. They meet with a general academic counselor and then here is how that recent college graduate I interviewed said it went for her (an actual account from a recent graduate):
General academic Counselor: “As you are declared a journalism major…you need to meet with the journalism counselor.”
The students calls the Journalism department and here is how the conversation proceeds….
Journalism counselor: “So, you are interested in journalism?”
Student: “I am not sure the journalism program is for me.”
Journalism counselor: “Well, then you need to speak with the counselor in the area you’re interested in.”
Student: “I suppose I have some interest in psychology.”
Journalism counselor: “You must speak directly with the psychology counselor.”
Student must then call the Psychology counselor, of whom responds with: “so what you need to know is that there are X number of upper division psychology courses you need to take, an X number of lower division psychology courses you need to complete to earn a Psychology degree. Here is a list of classes that qualify. Have a nice day.”
CALL TO ACTION: begin the career selection journey in the beginning of high school, and have your adolescent go through a career guidance process before they ever step foot on a college campus. Before you ever write a check that will end up being in the six figures!
Example of a process where more than just skills and passions are accounted for: http://greatpeoplescience.com/find-a-stable-productive-and-filling-career/
A previous blog where I talk about protecting yourself from the runaway college tuition train: https://www.doctorbrunner.com/how-to-prevent-your-adolescent-from-being-injured-by-the-runaway-college-tuition-train/