If your teen is considering going to college, helping them find a major which can translate into a career is more important than ever. As higher education cost continue to rise, young adults can’t afford to spend a few semesters finding what direction they want to go with their major.
As tempting as it may be, parents shouldn’t choose their teens’ majors. This kind of behavior falls into the category of parental smothering, and your teen is likely to resent it. They even may purposely fail out of college to avoid being forced into a major they did not choose.
This doesn’t mean you need to be completely hands-off. There are a few steps that I have found which are effective in helping your teen choose a major:
Investigate Your Teen’s Hobbies
One of the first steps you should take is to find out what your teen spends their time doing. This is clearly where a good deal of their passion and energy lies, so it may be a good stepping stone to finding a major as they enter college. Some ways hobbies that can translate into a major include:
• Active on social media – A job that certainly didn’t exist when I was in college is the role of social media manager. It is a growing career field, and all the time your teen spends on social media can be turned to good account. Majors which would help them translate into these kinds of jobs are marketing, journalism, public relations, and business.
• Focuses on artistic hobbies – Whether your teen is a budding musician or a mini Vincent van Gogh, there are some majors they can channel that passion into. Graphic design degrees are still in high demand, especially when it comes to contract work. There are also teaching positions for both kinds of artists. Programs like Teach For America employ many college graduates in helping raise up underdeveloped school districts. For budding artists, explore degrees such as marketing, software development, animation, web design and architecture.
Love to play sports – From the select pool of people chosen to compete at the collegiate level, an even smaller fraction of these young adults are recruited to play sports professionally. So, while you don’t need to discourage your teen from playing sports in college, they’ll need a major they care about in college as their main career plan. Majors which may suit a sporting young adult are business, health and science, biology, communication, and sociology.
Have Your Teen Shadow Professionals
In the changing job market, it can be hard to know which career paths will remain viable. A good way to find out and also allow your teen to have a clearer idea of what their ideal job entails is to allow your teen to shadow a professional.
This isn’t as complicated as it may sound. Many professionals have informal programs which make allowances for your teen to be able to shadow them. Some ways you can find ways to help your teen shadow are:
• Look into volunteer programs which are aligned with your teen’s career interests.
• Email local professionals to see if they would allow your teen to shadow them for a day. I recommend small to midsize businesses for this as they tend to be more community-minded and open to these opportunities.
• Talk with your own network of friends and coworkers. My wife was having a girls day with her friends when the subject of our son’s interest in dentistry came up. One of her friends had a cousin who had a practice, and they were able to arrange a couple dates for our son to shadow the dentist.
It is hard for parents to allow their teens to begin forging their own way in the world. But with some help, parents can help teens choose a major which will allow them to turn their dreams into a career.