Approximately 80 percent of college freshmen have not declared a college major. Fifty percent of those who have declared a major will switch during college. Seventy percent of all college students will change their major.
These numbers prove that students are not being tuned into who they are before making major decisions—a costly mistake. Most parents who have saved for college plan on their child graduating in four years. What are the chances that a student who changes majors over and over or transfers schools will graduate in four years? Simply put: It’s not possible.
Your College Roadmap
The typical student embarks on the college search by first choosing the college they love, then a major, and finally choosing a corresponding career path. Students should instead embark on their journey with the end in mind—a future career. Instead of focusing on the four years spent in college, turn your attention to the 40+ years you will work after graduation.
The college roadmap should be tailored to the individual student. Students should first ask themselves, “What am I wired to do?” While there’s not one simple answer to this question, conscientiously dialing into one’s personality allows one to easily identify what they are not wired to do. From there they can consult sites like the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net Online to categorize job prospects accordingly. Students should hone in on career possibilities that satisfy their individual needs and interests. In that regard, the Birkman® assessment tool can be helpful since it identifies 77 personality scores. When personality data corresponds to a student’s academic profile, the results can be profound. (Find out more about the Birkman assessment here.)
The Back-Up Plan
Once potential careers are established, students should back up to the majors that feed to these careers and research colleges that are respected in those fields. Sometimes it’s one major—as is the case with teaching or engineering—but often there are several options that feed into a given career. Most guidance counselors’ offices contain a copy of Rugg’s Recommendations, which is a great tool to start looking at majors within a college.
On the college-bound journey, career needs to be at the forefront of each student’s choice of major. Choosing career first is actually an investment in college savings, since knowing upfront where your degree path will take you can save a lot of time and money.