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Did you help your child pick a major?

StickerSticker Registered User Posts: 123 Junior Member
edited October 2012 in Parents Forum
I have a HS junior. All queries thus far about what she might want to study in college, and where she might like to do that studying, are met with shrugged shoulders and "I don't know"s. How to get her to focus? Or maybe at least start narrowing down possible areas of concentration? Any suggestions? She has always gotten A's in all her classes. Does not seem to particularly love or hate any particular subjects. I feel like her college decision will depend on area of study but can get a clear idea of "what she wants to be when she grows up". Advice from experienced parents would be appreciated.
Post edited by Sticker on

Replies to: Did you help your child pick a major?

  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    No need. She can apply undecided. How would a hs junior even know of so many fields where she can't take classes in that area anyway til college? Your whole premise -that she needs to know now -is flawed. Why is it important that she narrow in?
  • cromettecromette Registered User Posts: 2,614 Senior Member
    Maybe. But it doesn't hurt to give it some thought and have a general direction. PG is right in that it's not imperative she has the answers now, but just keep talking to her. Not really pushing her for a pat answer, but I'll bet you can find out if she's fine arts or liberal arts, etc.
  • FlyMeToTheMoonFlyMeToTheMoon Registered User Posts: 2,586 Senior Member
    I helped first daughter choose a major, Environmental Science, because she didn't know what to choose, and I pointed out her passion to save the earth. One semester in, she switched to mechanical engineering so she can be involved in wind energy.

    First daughter and I have both guided second daughter to apply to the engineering department. I can't wait to see what she switches to once she starts college next fall.
  • MyLBMyLB Registered User Posts: 1,102 Senior Member
    No. My parents didn't help me either. Probably best that way.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,548 Senior Member
    No. Quite the opposite.

    Both of mine knew exactly what they wanted to major in (computer science and economics, respectively) and never deviated from their plans. I was the one who suggested that they might want to keep their options a little bit open by coming up with a second choice and satisfying the prerequisites for that major, too. Both kids looked at me as though I were nuts (a facial expression they had perfected over the years).

    I still think there's some value in my idea, though. But perhaps that's because I did it myself and it worked well for me.
  • MarsianMarsian Registered User Posts: 939 Member
    Most students I know are in one of the following categories: 1) Have no idea what they want to study, or 2) Think they would major in X, then took a course in Y and totally changed directions.

    I think this is par for the course. If she really doesn't know what she wants to do, then she needs to go to a place where she can have a lot of options and leave them open for a while.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    We discussed possible choices based on what we thought where their strengths. Like most teenagers, they thought we were crazy. Our high school has a career exploration class where they take a lot of personality tests and career interest tests, among other things. Those tests narrowed down possible careers for them and sparked interests in those fields, which sure made college searching easier. Of course, they still think they picked their majors, even though they are the same ones WE suggested :D.

    Knowing your major isn't all that important in the college search. Something like 80+% of all college kids change their major at least once. Knowing that they like science or like writing is helpful, but again, they should just find a school that is a good fit for them, take a wide range of classes freshman and sophomore year and usually by junior year in college, when most kids have to declare a major, they will know what they want to do.
  • missypiemissypie Registered User Posts: 18,303 Senior Member
    Middle child, yes. I've always told her that she is an expensive child and that she needs a job where she can support herself in the manner in which she wants to live. She totally wanted the help.
  • ConsolationConsolation Registered User Posts: 21,717 Senior Member

    S decided what he wants to do halfway through senior year--of college. We'll see how that works out.
  • Emaheevul07Emaheevul07 Registered User Posts: 5,966 Senior Member
    My parents didn't help me... in fact to this day they still have to ask what I majored in sometimes in order to even remember. I had a major picked out from about kindergarten that I did end up changing sophomore year of college-- I still would have gone with my first choice if I could have, but my priorities changed as I got older and I wanted something more practical than what I'd originally selected. It turned out well.

    My younger sister is on to her second year at community college and this year has dropped to part time. She still has no idea what she wants to do, never has really had any idea, and is reaching a point where she seems to be losing motivation to attend school at all from lack of direction. I think this is a lot of parents worst fears when their kids seem like they're not developing a specific interest on the timeline they expected. One thing I am noticing is that a parents attempt to "help" can really be hurtful if one is not careful. My sister has come up with many, many ideas in the last year of things she might want to be interested in, and if my parents think the idea seems kind of random for her (which, lets face it, ANY major would be at this point), they subtley deter her.. I don't think they even mean to but they react skeptically and, she being very impressionable, panics and backs off without ever pursuing that idea further. She thinks there is one perfect field out there for her somewhere and that she has to know what it is right this second-- and while she does need to narrow it down right now, she doesn't have to know her destiny right this moment to still keep moving forward. Encouraging someone to try new things and to be openminded is important, as is helping someone identify their skills and interests if they can't see them for themselves. But I do think it's important not to rush this descision or to get too frustrated too soon about it. It's one of those things, I think, where the answer just comes to you when you're ready-- and not a day sooner.
  • emilybeeemilybee Registered User Posts: 12,133 Senior Member
    No, we encouraged him to keep an open mind.
  • bethievtbethievt Registered User Posts: 6,759 Senior Member
    I helped my son find a college by reading books like the Fiske Guide and sticky-noting schools that sounded like "him". He then chose where to visit and where to apply. He then chose where he wanted to attend. We suggested that he take the courses that appealed to him and that a major would probably emerge and that did happen.
  • alhalh Registered User Posts: 8,070 Senior Member
    I feel like her college decision will depend on area of study but can get a clear idea of "what she wants to be when she grows up". Advice from experienced parents would be appreciated.

    This is where CC gets interesting to me.

    Many kids don't know what they want to study, or it is clear they may change their minds. If I had that kid, I'd be steering her towards a liberal arts college. Others will obviously disagree. I have a rather undecided niece whose parents have her enrolled in a program that will result in a highly sought after medical degree. If she develops a passion for something else, she can switch majors. That's fine. They just want a goal.

    My own kids did know what they wanted to study in college. We did not help them choose their area of interest or major. We were very clear, they could major in whatever they chose but had to graduate in four years. Because of their interests, they knew which schools had what they considered to be the best professors and best departments. We did help them choose safety schools, generally where the students of the "best professors" were teaching.

    There are as many different ways to approach this as there are students. Good Luck!
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    Many kids don't know what they want to study, or it is clear they may change their minds. If I had that kid, I'd be steering her towards a liberal arts college. Others will obviously disagree.

    I don't see why a liberal arts college or a university would be any different. Frankly I get tired of the parsing of the differences. I really don't see how my college-of-arts-and-sciences within a larger university that also had other schools (engineering, music, theater, journalism, education) is any different. Either way, I could have majored in English, French, math, history, whatever.
  • hudsonvalley51hudsonvalley51 Registered User Posts: 2,449 Senior Member
    Absolutely not.

    When my daughters us questions about prospective majors or possible careers we answered to the best of our ability. We were never in a position of having to take the initiative, however.

    Daughter #1 ended up going in a direction she had never considered until her junior year of college, although it contains elements of disciplines that have interested her since high school (medicine and biology).

    Daughter #2 has been insistent since she was in middle school that she wanted to be an actor. After 2 months in college she has discovered new interests that may well evolve into a major or majors and/or careers.
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