Many times I hear from parents they don’t think their student is ready for college because “He/she doesn’t know what they want to do”. Well, it is the rare 17 year-old who knows what s/he wants to do with the rest of their life.
So, “Undecided” is the one of the most popular majors in the United States today. For those who do declare a major upon entering college, as many as 80% are uncertain of their major and upwards of 50% of those change majors at least once, up to 30% change 2 or more times.
Follow the money
With so much anxiety over choosing the college major, that students and their families default to choosing a major that is “employable” – scouring employment statistics to determine college major.
There is one major (if you’ll pardon the pun) fallacy in this type of thinking. It is short-sighted. Many of the most lucrative careers today didn’t even exist 10 years ago and many jobs which topped the earners charts are now just as represented in unemployment rolls.
So where does that leave students?
With an unparalleled opportunity to explore and learn what makes them passionate, what they can excel at, and what they can do with the rest of their lives. The first 2 years of college can be used to explore new courses, which can lead to majors and careers.
This, however, cannot be done thoughtlessly. This is not an excuse to wander aimlessly spending $30,000 to $60,000 a year taking easy A’s and enjoying the party life. This is the chance to take courses outside of the 5 “solids” (English, History, Language, Math, & Science) to discover your path. Instead of History – take social anthropology or history of film making; Math – take Financial Engineering or Accounting; Science – take nutrition or marine biology; English – take public speaking or (find another class here). These classes will still fulfill your general education requirements and will give you a chance to explore concepts and ideas; open your mind to new possibilities and to refine critical thinking skills.
It is those critical thinking skills which can and do lead to jobs. Employers want to know if you are productive and can do the work. Critical thinkers are those who can go into a new situation, for which they have no experience, analyze the situation and apply their critical thinking to solving or improving a problem.
Those who an do this successfully and mix it with a good work ethic will be employed and in demand regardless of their major.