Helping Your Child Decide What Exactly They Want to Do in College

Helping Your Child Decide

What Exactly They Want to Do in College

Last year, we shared a blog post all about choosing a major. For some students, choosing a major is a harder decision than choosing their university. As a parent, you’re likely trying to figure out any and all the ways you can help your college-bound kid chart their own path. As always, we’re here to help you help your child!


Talk to them about their passions, interests, and strengths.

We always tell our students that their career can be found at the intersection of what they love to do and what they’re good at.

When it comes to choosing a major, minor, and extracurricular activities, their interests should be the starting point. What is their favorite class in high school? What subject areas do they excel in? When they envision their future, what sorts of things do they ultimately dream of doing?

Next, reflect on the subjects in which they’ve been particularly successful. In what class have they consistently gotten the best grades? What classes or activities always came naturally to them?

Instead of just brainstorming aloud, we encourage students to write it all down. Make a T-chart with both categories and see what overlaps. Once they’ve come up with a few viable paths of study, take a look at a course catalog from a university. When they see the list of classes they’d take in that major, are they excited about it? If not, keep looking.

From there, they can look at potential careers within the field. This Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics can be particularly helpful in seeing all the career options out there. (And there are LOTS!)


Discuss the (expensive) elephant in the room.

College tuition is steep, and that doesn’t even include textbooks and room & board. While you want your child to be excited and passionate about their major, it’s important to also remind them of the financial implications. O*NET OnLine is an excellent resource that lists different jobs across all industries, their projected growth, and average salaries. The average salaries and job opportunities might also help your child decide if something should be a career or a hobby.



Remind them about minors and extracurricular activities!

Just because they aren’t majoring in something doesn’t mean they can’t be involved with it over the next four years. I had friends who loved student government, but had no interest in turning that into a career. My roommate was a proud member of several Spanish language and cultural clubs but didn’t take a single Spanish class after freshman year. Encourage them to do their research about the minors and extracurriculars available at their university.



Be an encourager.

If their experience is anything like mine was, their senior year can be a stressful and often overwhelming time. Try to be positive, helpful, and encouraging. Their decision may seem obvious to you, but it’s important that you share your wisdom without adding pressure. Share your thoughts, and help guide them to their own decision!