The Highlands Company Blog

Unlocking Your Child’s Potential: A Guide to Choosing the Right College Major

By Independent Educational Consultant Jackie Postelnick, founder of Conscious College Planning: “I seek to inspire families to be proactive in their approach to college planning. When done right, there are so many more opportunities for a student to learn about themselves and be connected to their self-expression. And when students are confident and knowledgeable about the process, they make great decisions for themselves.”

Do you have to know your major before college? I get asked this question frequently. As a student career coach, certified consultant for The Highlands Company, and the founder of Conscious College Planning, I’ve found that students who research their options before heading to college are significantly more successful in graduating in four years than students who do not.

Let’s Look at The Numbers

While some colleges require you to choose a specific major in the admission application, in most cases, a student does not have to declare their major before applying. In fact, the most popular declared major for incoming freshmen is Undecided. On the other hand, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average percentage of students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in SIX years is only 64%. Yeah, I said six years for a four-year degree. A recent figure for students who graduate in four years or less was unavailable, but in 2015, it was reported as 44%.

While those statistics are concerning, I’ve seen firsthand the immense benefits students gain by investing time into what they are naturally good at, what they enjoy doing with their time, what interests them, and researching careers and majors that make sense for them.

Students who do this are more confident in themselves, make smart choices about where to go to college, and save time and money by not switching majors- which can add costly semesters of tuition to finish their program. Students who investigate early on are also more likely to find work that is more enriching and satisfying to them after college. So, let’s explore the best way to choose a college major.

How to Choose a Major

Choosing a college major can be a big decision. Figuring out a good-fit major early on, or even narrowing down several areas of study, can help with finding the right colleges to apply to. The process isn’t necessarily linear either, meaning you don’t follow the steps in a particular order to arrive at the answer. It involves research, thoughtful introspection, and contemplation to discover the best major. Below are several aspects that your student should explore to learn what majors are best for them:

Understand Your Interests

Have your child take an inventory of how they spend their time outside class. What kinds of activities do they enjoy and why?  What kinds of books do they read, what content do they follow on social media or YouTube, and why? I can think of fifty more questions, but these are a great start. Additionally, there is an assortment of assessments and quizzes, easily found with a Google search, that your student can take to identify less obvious interests.

Detail Your Favorite Subjects

Another thing to consider is what your child likes to learn. What are their favorite classes and why? What subjects come easy to them? What subjects do they struggle with? What makes them hard? You will get strong clues from these answers as to what subjects are best for them to pursue in college.

Get Some Experience

Many students are experiential learners. This means they learn by experiencing something to determine whether it’s right for them. There are many ways to achieve this, like taking a class, joining a club, volunteering, seeking an internship, or applying for a discovery program related to the topic of interest. These experiences provide students with deeper insight, especially when they are given the opportunity to reflect upon them thoughtfully. Not all students make the connection on their own, so asking questions and having them detail the answers is key to fostering strong decision-making skills.

Understand Your Personality and Values

Considering a student’s personality and values is also important when deciding what to major in. If a highly introverted student who values independence is interested in studying business but decides to go down the Professional Sales track because their dad is in sales and he “knows it makes lots of money,” they may find themselves struggling to keep up with the vigor needed to make a high volume of personal connections to succeed at their job after graduation. Now, there are certainly many introverts in sales, but are they thriving? It depends on so many factors. Either way, these elements must be considered when researching majors and careers.

Aptitude Testing

Aptitude Testing is often confused with interest assessments or interest profilers. These special tests are different because true aptitude tests scientifically measure one’s abilities. They provide deep insight into a person’s natural-born strengths, what I call superpowers. In my professional opinion, this is the most profound way to understand what careers and majors to pursue in college because, unlike interests, your aptitudes do not change over time.

Understanding the Pitfalls of Interest-Based Decision-making

According to the consensus of my fellow college advisors, many high school students select their majors based solely on their current interests. Many find-your-college-major quizzes are available on college websites and other sites, such as The Career Girls College Major Quiz.

Don’t get me wrong, these are still great resources. While they may seem like a logical approach, only considering interests often leads to dissatisfaction and career uncertainty down the road. Interests typically evolve over time, but your aptitudes, which represent innate strengths and abilities, remain constant. Without considering aptitudes, students risk ending up in careers that don’t align with their natural abilities, leaving them feeling unhappy.

The Power of Advanced Aptitude Testing

At Conscious College Planning, I offer an Aptitude Discovery Program designed to uncover your child’s natural strengths and talents. The Advanced Aptitude testing I provide goes beyond traditional assessments to provide deep insights into your child’s unique abilities. Students can make informed decisions about their college major, internships, and future career paths by understanding their aptitudes.

Investing in aptitude testing isn’t just about choosing the right college major; it’s about setting your child up for long-term success and fulfillment. Armed with knowledge about their innate abilities, students can confidently pursue careers where they’ll thrive. This proactive approach saves years of trial and error, helping students avoid the frustration of job-hopping and the disappointment of unfulfilling work.

In addition to the aptitude assessments, my program incorporates personality assessments, introspective questionnaires, career research techniques, and thought-provoking coaching sessions to help them put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Empowering All Students

Even if your child is unsure about attending college, aptitude testing can still be incredibly valuable. Students can explore alternative paths, such as vocational training or entrepreneurship, by identifying their natural strengths. Aptitude testing empowers all students to leverage their unique abilities and find opportunities for success, whether in higher education or the workforce.

 

 

Making Informed Decisions and Saving Money

College is a significant financial investment, and choosing the right major can directly impact your child’s earning potential and future opportunities. By engaging in aptitude testing with Conscious College Planning, you’re investing in your child’s education and their long-term success and satisfaction.

My Aptitude Discovery Program helps students identify high-potential career paths that align with their natural strengths, ensuring they get the most out of their college experience and maximize their return on investment.

Don’t Leave Their Future to Chance

Schedule a free strategy session today and unlock their full potential with my Aptitude Discovery Program. Together, we’ll map out a personalized success plan for your child that honors their unique abilities and aspirations.

References:

National Center for Education Statistics 2020: https://nces.ed.gov/FastFacts/display.asp?id=40

 National Center for Education Statistics 2020: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=569

Jackie Postelnick: Educational Consultant

 I help students understand themselves on a deeper level and guide them to make aligned decisions on majors, colleges, careers, and life! I use a holistic approach to meet students where they are, and together, we co-create a personalized plan so they can set goals and find success earlier in life. 

If college is part of their pathway, I can seamlessly guide them on finding the right colleges and maximizing scholarship eligibility so families can preserve their wealth and make a wise investment in their children’s education. 

Highlands Consultant Jackie Postelnick – College Planner & Student Career Coach. Founder of Conscious College Planning.

My process helps students to celebrate their strengths and understand any challenges so they can make smart decisions for their futures. Contact me at jackie@consciouscollegeplanning.com for a free strategy session to learn more.

 

This article is reposted with permission by Conscious College Planning
Conscious College Planning