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Deciding for undecideds

flprepaidmomflprepaidmom 28 replies12 threads Junior Member
Seems like so many kids know what they want to do before graduating H.S. My daughter is a Junior in HS right now and has absolutely no idea. She has a 3.9 UW 4.6 W and is a good test taker. She’s a fantastic math student and claims to have no interest in business, loves theatre but only for a minor. Was great at AP computer science but says she’s not interested in doing that for a career. Maybe liking the idea of design or architecture. Loves fashion and make up. One thing she recently said to me is that she’s not sure if she loves math or just loves being good at math. Her current favorite class is AP Lang. Wants to pick a high paying career. Will be going to a public Florida college. Where do you even begin??
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Replies to: Deciding for undecideds

  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1834 replies27 threads Senior Member
    When a student is well rounded like this I ask, "what kind of lifestyle do you think you'd like?" I try to help the student evaluate if earning potential is important to them, what type of work environment (office, hands-on...) they might like, and even geographic location for where they might like to live (city, state...some jobs are only in certain areas). I then try to help them clarify career vs hobby. Sometimes students need help organizing their abilities into potential job or "just for fun" category. Organizing these types of things on paper can often help too.

    Of course if you don't think you can work through this with your daughter there is always the route of a counselor.

    Once you get 2-3 general ideas it would be great if you could hook her up with a professional in those fields to spend some time with to find out a little bit more. For example, if you could have her meet with an architect.

    HTH
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7817 replies65 threads Senior Member
    Many students don't know what they want to do, even in college. That's what career centers are for ; )

    I think it's great to start thinking about it but I wouldn't put any pressure on her.

    Does your guidance office have any interest/career inventories that they can share? Or your local library will have resources.



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  • thumper1thumper1 75486 replies3310 threads Senior Member
    Don’t fret! One of my kids was absolutely positive about their major, and stuck with it through grad school, and works in the field.

    The other...well...that kid knew exactly what she wanted for a major, and did complete that major...but picked up a second major. Even when graduation happened, this kid still wasn’t sure what to do next. So...joined the Peace Corps, and figured it all out.
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  • flyawayx2flyawayx2 5 replies0 threads New Member
    edited November 11
    She sounds very similar to my HS junior! 4.0 UW, all honors or AP classes, decent test taker, thrives in his math and science classes. He questions if he loves math and science or just loves that he excels in them. He has no idea what he might want to major in, but wants a high paying career. (Who doesn't?!) Our juniors are perfectly normal, but its hard when it seems like every other kid has their major figured out. He also doesn't know what size or type of college he might like so we're hoping to visit a few in-state colleges soon so he can get a sense of the differences. Its hard to know where to start!
    edited November 11
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  • rickle1rickle1 2079 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Interesting and fairly normal situation. Especially the good at math / doesn't really like math scenario. S was like that (maybe still a bit) where he was great at HS calc, named top math student in the school, etc., but would say he didn't really like it.

    However, now a junior in college he likes the application of math. He's a finance major. The problem solving practice from pure math class developed a reasoning, logic, and anlytical approach to viewing situations that he applies to all types of business scenarios, economics, and in general, just figuring things out. A strong math background can land you all types of opportunities, technical and non technical. It's about developing those critical thinking skills that employers really care about.

    So she may learn (in college) that it's not so much the math but what the math can lead to. Mix that with strong liberal arts for perspective and you ahve a very marketable student (for many things).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79014 replies701 threads Senior Member
    Being good at math is good for a large range of college major and career directions.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4587 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Undecided I think is the number one major at most schools..
    LOL
    ..

    But good at math. Look into Actuarial science. She will make so much money she can do whatever else she wants to in life... (some tongue in cheek here) 🤑💵. Most people seem to gloss over this field though.

    Also put all her interests together and Google them. You will be surprised what combinations of careers will come up that you never dreamed of.
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  • bjscheelbjscheel 599 replies5 threads Member
    DD'19 definitely did not know at the beginning of junior year. And still in senior year I was telling her she didn't need to pick but she wanted a plan. She picked one by going through a school's list of majors. If a major sounded interesting, she read the course requirements and descriptions to see if it still felt interesting. It helped her see what was involved. It was useful for her to decide in advance because not many schools had her major of choice. And the school she is at has every major she ever considered just in case.

    Besides her main major, she is hoping to complete a Theatre BA or at least a minor. I highly recommend your daughter be involved in that since it is a love of hers. DD's school had a production for freshman right away at the beginning of school. Besides keeping her busy when she might have been homesick, it was an instant friend group.

    When I was in HS I followed around a couple of veterinarians (decided that was a no- surgery is gross), and an optometrist (that was a maybe), and at Christmas break of freshman year of college my mom suggested accounting and I said sounds good.
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  • ChaosParent23ChaosParent23 518 replies29 threads Member
    Mine has wide and varied interests but was ADAMANT about his major. Even goes to a school that boasts quite an impressive list of alumni in one single dept. Now that he's there, he's finding out he has even more interests than he thought. It wouldn't shock me at all if he changed majors, but wouldn't surprise me if he stuck with the original either.
    Then again, I'm also not much wedded to the idea that your major has alot to do with your ultimate career path (STEM aside). My DH's BA is in History, w/ an EMBA. He was a career military officer who just retired and is now working in data analysis for a major international tech corp. He absolutely loves his job!
    I say let students take what interests them. They'll do better academically and everything will eventually fall into place. :smile:
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5347 replies100 threads Senior Member
    S19 very undecided but had decided against engineering and business for undergrad so that helped. He didn't apply to any large schools where he had to apply to a major. At all of the schools on his list, one didn't have to choose a major until March of soph year. He's a strong student all around and likes every subject. He liked smaller schools and felt that he would be able to narrow down his interests to pick a major easier at a smaller school. The classes are more intimate and he knows his professors well. Also, he was able to take classes with upperclassmen in subjects he didn't have in high school (like art history) and those classes are way more stimulating that "intro" classes.

    He was thinking maybe math or physics for a major. Took both. Has decided to stick with math for second semester. This semester, he realized that he likes art history, doesn't like physics enough to stick with it, and misses writing. He's also gone through all of the majors and eliminated some others he thought he might consider. All of this to say that things fall into place once they get to school.

    I will say that I'm a little biased against business undergrad, unless someone really knows they want something like accounting. Kids can get finance, marketing, etc., jobs without a business undergrad and many times companies prefer a liberal arts major. Engineering is a tough one and one does need to decide ahead of time if they want to be an engineer. My gut told me that, even though S19 was really good at math and science, his lack of interest in engineering and his continued interest in other subjects did not make him a match for undergrad engineering. Those kids take mostly engineering classes.

    Your D will be fine. There's a lot of time to figure it out.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79014 replies701 threads Senior Member
    edited November 11
    Knowsstuff wrote: »
    But good at math. Look into Actuarial science. She will make so much money she can do whatever else she wants to in life... (some tongue in cheek here) 🤑💵. Most people seem to gloss over this field though.

    Note that while actuarial science does exist as a college major, the career direction can be reached with a more generic major like math or statistics with appropriate elective choices.

    There is an SOA list of schools with ratings about availability of relevant course work for actuarial preparation.
    https://www.soa.org/institutions/

    Typical career directions include insurance, risk management, and finance.
    edited November 11
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  • mathmommathmom 32525 replies159 threads Senior Member
    I spent most of freshman year figuring out what I didn't want to do. Ended up figuring out that making things as opposed to writing about things gave me the most satisfaction. I ended up in architecture where being good at math is useful, but not as useful as having a good eye, being able to think spatially, and being able to figure out what your clients want and get along with them. Only for the lucky few architects is it a "high paying career" however.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5347 replies100 threads Senior Member
    @mathmom yeah I think a lot of kids even dream about being an architect but it seems like a tough road and a lot of success might be based on being in the right place at the right time as well as having all of the right talents.
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1834 replies27 threads Senior Member
    I agree that many don't know what they want and undecided is ok. But if the goal is to get done in 4 years I think it's important to put some effort into figuring out a general direction. Sometimes choosing a larger school is the way to go in this case because there are more options for majors. A wise student working in the library during a college visit said to me once, "try to make sure your student chooses the college (within the university) s/he can stick with because when you don't, that's how you end up "behind" and spending more than four years getting a degree. For some of us, finically it's imperative to keep within the 4 years.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79014 replies701 threads Senior Member
    edited November 11
    An undecided college frosh needs to plan his/her first year course selection to work toward all of the possible majors of interest, in order to avoid unintentionally closing off some options by not taking the prerequisites in time.

    This can be a more difficult planning problem than for a student who is already decided on a major and just needs to follow the department's recommended course schedule to fulfill the prerequisites to declare the major.

    An additional potential problem for some students is that some majors are oversubscribed at some colleges, requiring high GPA or competitive admission to declare the major. An undecided student may want to prefer colleges where the majors of interest are not competitive or only minimally competitive to declare.
    edited November 11
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  • kpopmomrunnerkpopmomrunner 27 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Sounds like my daughter. Around this time last year when she was trying to decide where to apply for college, she was so overwhelmed. She is very strong in math and science, loves music (violin for 11 years, was one of about 900 students selected and performed at NYSSMA all state 2018), performs in theater, loves to sing, dance, paint, draw, did xc, an AP National Scholar and belongs to National Honor Society as well. She's really undecided what to pursue. I had her join a MASH camp (2 days) at work so she will see the different professions out in the healthcare field. She enjoyed it but later decided not to go that route. She said she imagines herself working in a tech company. That helped her in a way to focus on the school somewhat. She applied to 9 schools, a mix of public and private in NYS only. She was 7-1-1 accepted/wait listed/denied. The schools are mixed small, medium and large student populations. She decided to go to a medium liberal arts university half an hour from home. She is an undecided major but she's veering towards computer science major and maybe minor in economics. She has until end of sophomore year to declare her major.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5946 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Many LACs have distribution requirements to ensure that kids sample before committing or they are very open to kids being bit random their choices. she may want to look at NCF.

    I am not a huge fan of committing upfront (although I know some people have certainty early on.) There is so much to explore in college.

    In any case, she should have a strategy for exploring wherever she lands. Imo, that might be more valuable than trying to figure it out now.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2513 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "Seems like so many kids know what they want to do before graduating H.S. "

    That's more perception than reality, a study few years back said that undecided/undeclared was the most popular major and 75% of kids declaring changed their major. The 75% seems a little high but even if it's 50%, you know that kids aren't that sure. Also colleges have said they don't expect kids at 17 to know, so it's not that big a deal. Good luck!
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  • flprepaidmomflprepaidmom 28 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for all of the insight. Since we have prepaid and bright futures she will most likely be at UF or FSU. Both schools seem to have many choices for her. Maybe next year I will have her sit down with a counselor or someone that helps with that type stuff. She definitely cares about finding a high paying career. Actuarial Science sounds like it could be interesting.
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