Updated: Mar 16, 2021
Picking a major can be as tough of a decision as where to go to school. As a parent, you want to be supportive of your student's passions and interests, but you also worry about their future. Will they be able to get a job after graduation? Will they be able to pay their student loans and manage a monthly budget?
For those parents who want to be part of the decision, it's critical to broach the topic respectfully for a productive discussion. Here are some tips for how to do just that.
It's important that your child chooses a field they're excited about, but it is also important they understand the financial implications of that major. To start the conversation, it’s helpful to balance the cost of college against potential earnings for certain careers. My College Plan is a free tool that can help students and families compare college costs, check out potential careers and earnings of college majors to determine what makes financial sense.
Your child might be passionate about majoring in a field where their job prospects are slim, and you might be afraid of discouraging them by suggesting something else. In that case, ask if they are open to minoring in that subject and majoring in a more marketable field, or vice versa if their heart is set on a specific field of study.
Sometimes the added credential of a minor, or the particular major/minor combination, is the key to success in the job market. For example, a student with a major/minor degree in Computer Science and Psychology might be particularly attractive to application development companies interested in designing products that are intuitive to use.
If your child doesn't want to change their major or add a minor, encourage them to get job experience while in school. Internships, co-ops or work-study opportunities on campus can all be good options. Practical work experience helps ensure they will be among the most qualified job candidates graduating with their degree.
Before they make a decision, encourage your child to meet with a guidance counselor or an adviser who can help them get more clarity about the major they want to pursue. Have them talk to people who are currently working in the field and to students who are currently majoring in the subject. This will give them some perspective to determine if a particular major is right for them.