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Worried about declaring a major?

18 Oct

Struggling to decide what your major should be?

Struggling to decide what your major should be?

High school seniors typically fret about their future college major. While it is true that some students have to strap themselves into a carefully matriculated four- or five-year path (such as engineering), other students have time to explore various courses of study.

Questions to consider are as follows:

  • What activities do I enjoy?
  • What high school (or college) courses have I enjoyed the most?
  • What courses were my academic strengths?
  • What kinds of jobs do students with that major typically pursue?

Another consideration should be personality type. Students often do not yet understand who they are as a person. For example, I once had a very shy girl student who was convinced she wanted to go into public relations or sales, so I encouraged her to jump into leadership responsibilities and community service so that she would be more involved with the public. When I found out later that she was studying accounting, I knew that was a better match.

You can Google “personality test” or “Myers-Briggs Personality Test” and find a variety of online tests that can help you determine whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, whether you are a person who is more sensing or more intuitive, whether you are more thinking or more feeling, and whether you are more judging or more perceiving. (A quick one is at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp. NOTE: Most of these sites are selling something–buyer, be aware!) Or . . . you could just ask Mom or Dad. They know you best. Plus, I’ve often found that students choose answers for what they WANT to be, rather than who they ARE.

Many colleges will allow you to enroll as an “undecided” student. That means that you do not have to choose a major right from the get-go. Instead, you take courses that will meet general education requirements for graduation. Chances are that you will change your major twice during the course of your college years anyway.

These steps will help you choose your major:

1. Talk to an advisor about your major options.

2. Enroll in a major and career exploration course at your college.

3. Think through how your interests, values, skills, and personality could work together toward an interesting career path.

4. Generate a list of possible majors and research them.

5. Read the descriptions of the courses you would have to take. If they sound terrible, that’s probably not the major for you!

6. Think about the pros and cons of each major and take an introductory course (one that will meet graduation requirements anyway).

7. Ask questions of professors, advisors, and students in those majors.

Remember that most majors do not equal careers. There can be many different careers that could spring from a major you choose.

 

Get a system!

10 Sep

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As you are amassing stacks of brochures, applications, and other paperwork relating to your college search and financial aid process, you will quickly find you’ve got a giant mess!

The following office supplies can help you create a simple system:

  • File box (with hanging files) or large accordian file
  • Box of file folders

Then organize your materials like this:

College info:

  • Create a separate file folder for each different college.
  • Write passwords and other important access info on the inside of the file folder.
  • On the COVER of the file folder, write the due date of the application along with a checklist for every item you need to complete the application.
  • When  you have completed the application, print out a copy and keep it in the file.

Scholarship info:

  • Create a separate file folder for each scholarship.
  • On the COVER of the file folder, write the due date of the scholarship along with a checklist for every item you need to complete the application.
  • Keep a hard copy of all scholarship applications and responses.

Financial aid info:

  • Create separate file folders for any financial aid paperwork: FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and state grant info, as appropriate.
  • Write login info and passwords on the inside of the file folder.
  • Keep hard copies of all paperwork.

Order the files in the box, according to due date. The nearest due date should be in the front, followed by the next due item and so forth.

Then, check your file system on a daily basis, so that you stay on top of what needs to be done. You can also calendar these deadlines in your planner or on a calendar on your phone.

It’s not rocket science, senior — but this simple system will keep you on track!