CAREER VS. MAJOR ... WHAT CHOICE COMES FIRST?

Conventional wisdom suggests the answer to this question is that the choice of major is the most important decision and consequently drives the career choice.  Parents, friends, and some school personnel mistakenly have the student focus on a major.  

Consequently, the student is asked repeatedly ... ”What are you going to major in?”  Rarely is the student asked, “What do you want to do when you are older?”  The student is encouraged to decide what their major is ... everyone wants to know their major ... and the student needs to decide the major early because they don't want to enter college “undecided”.  This forces the student to choose a major for the sake of choosing and ultimately is the reason they change majors so frequently, hence the increase in cost due to a longer stay in college.  

The choice of major will also typically direct the student's career.  What if the student likes the major, but hates most of the most common careers associated with the degree?  It begs the question, shouldn't the student in fact first attempt to decide what they believe they would like to do when they graduate?  But can the choice of careers also impact college selection? 

The college selection process involves many different factors when deciding what school to attend.  Many families believe the decision on what school to attend is based on the competitiveness of the school for the major of choice.  This is not the start … it is really closer to the end of the process.

When determining which school to attend, students should first start with their career choice.  What is it they want to do when they graduate?  Now that could be a tough decision for a high school student.  However, it is important to begin the process of thinking about it and dialing down as close as they can to a decision.  

There are many tools and tests available to help students decide what career might best suit them.  For the vast majority of students, there may be a couple of different careers on the list.  Because of the time constraints during the school year with sports, activities, homework, etc., the summer months are an ideal time for students to job shadow those careers that might interest them the most.  Students can ask friends and family members for contacts of those individuals in careers they believe to have an interest in or that the tests indicate would be a good fit.  Contact individuals in these fields and ask them if they will permit someone to shadow them for a day.  It is one of the best ways for a student to see if they will like that particular career.