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Guiding Students to Make a College Major DecisionSAT Magoosh

Is your college student struggling with declaring a college major? This article will help both parents and students in this process.

Choosing a College Major

Deciding on a college major is one of the toughest decisions that students will make in their college careers.

Contrary to popular belief, it is the rare student who knows exactly what he or she wants to major in while in college and even these students may find themselves having doubts as they get immersed in college life and academics. 

Parents can and should help with this indecision in several ways, as narrowing down a college major can save money in the long run in the form of less college time and classes that do not count for graduation requirements. 

College Parenting Expert, Wendy David-Gaines, shares concrete ideas about how parents can help their students in finding a career path that is right for them in her article, “Making an undecided major work for the college-bound”.

Is your college student struggling with declaring a college major? This article will help both parents and students in this process:


The large numbers of college-bound who don’t know what to major in can stop stressing about their indecision because many of their declared major peers are switching while on campus. Parents can help their students focus on forming a decision-making plan that will lead to finding a field of study and a career they crave.

“An estimated 20 to 50 percent of students enter college as ‘undecided’…and an estimated 75 percent of students change their major at least once before graduation,” according to The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, a peer-reviewed scholarly publication about academic advising in higher education.

Failure to declare a major early has a downside.

For certain areas of study, increased college costs and longer time to graduate can occur to fulfill necessary requirements for that major. However, choosing prematurely, investing tuition and study time, then switching to another field can have a similar result. A better way is to follow a decision-making plan designed to find a career and what is necessary to achieve it.

Colleges review student qualifications against their own admission requirements to decide who to admit. The college-bound can match their own skills, abilities, and interests with possible career paths. Parents can help their students brainstorm talents and accomplishments. For those students without a single top choice interest, they can start a blog using words or photographs to describe things of appeal, fascination or concern. Over time, check for a pattern of interest.

When a chosen interest is identified, students can research types of jobs and related academic and internship experiences. Then they can seek out relevant extracurricular activities to participate in through parent connections, clubs, and industry associations to get a taste of the associated work and lifestyle.

When in college, students can select classes to further develop interests and begin forming a connection between college and career. When ready to declare a major, students can consider adding a minor or a concentration of study in another area of interest to boost skills and opportunities for wider job choices and a competitive edge. Hobbies and clubs can help here, too along with resume-building internships.

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Having a plan to make a good decision about choosing a major can help students find a field they want to study and work in.

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