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How to figure out a college major

6 Sep

You can learn a lot about majors at a college bookstore!

As you’re making plans to apply to colleges, one question comes up repeatedly.

What will be your intended major?

That’s a biggie, seniors, because you want to apply to colleges that have a strong program in that major. (The answer to that question will be in next week’s blog.)

But how can you know if a major will be a good fit?

That’s also challenging at this point, but there are a couple good ways to find your academic niche.

First, on a university’s website, find the list of required courses for a major that interests you. Then go to the link for the required courses of that major (not the general ed courses).

Read through the actual course descriptions–the short paragraph that tells you what the course will be about). Do these seem interesting to you? If so, that could be a good fit for you.

Yes, you’re allowed to look through college textbooks.

Another strategy is to visit a college’s bookstore and head toward the section that has the books required for the various college classes (yes, you can do that!). Find your major and the various courses in the department being offered that semester (or quarter). Thumb through them. Read a page or two.

I’ve been known to ask students these questions. “Do these books seem interesting to you?” “Can you see yourself reading this material?” “If not, do you think this would be the best major for you?”

If you do NOT like the material in the textbooks, then peruse the bookstore for academic books that DO interest you. Maybe that will be your fit instead.

Happy major hunting . . . and keep in mind that some universities will allow you to apply “Undeclared,” which means you have not yet decided on a major.

Hey, reader . . . 50 Life Lessons for Grads–written by 50 college grads–will be released in April. Look for it for the perfect gift for all the grads you know.


Last wisdom bits for college frosh and parents

8 Aug

Two quick messages–one for entering college freshmen and one for their parents:

College freshmen:

“A little request … When your mom wants to unpack all of your clothes and make your bed – Let her. When your dad wants to introduce himself to all the people on your floor – Let him. When they want to take pictures of every move you make this weekend – Let them. If they embarrass you or act crazy – Let them. As you start the new chapter of your life, they are also starting the new chapter of theirs. And believe it or not, this is probably more difficult for them than it is for you. So let them treat you like their “baby” one last time.” –From San Diego State University

Parents of college freshmen:

Just a few words of wisdom from a mom (ME!) who saw FOUR children go to college and finish their degrees:

  • Let them go. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, you’ll miss them. Yes, you’ll want them to come home every weekend–or every night! BUT . . . let them go.
  • Let them go. Don’t call or text continually. Just one phone call a week. Just a couple texts.
  • Let them go. Don’t say, “Oh, I’ll miss you sooooo much!” Say, “I’m so proud of you. I know you are going to do great!”

As college orientation workshop presenters emphasize to parents, these kids need to stand on their own. They need to learn life skills. If they keep depending on you for every single thing, they won’t become independent, mature adults.

Sure, you can be a safety net of sorts. For example, if your kid calls and says, “I’m sick,” send him or her to the college’s medical clinic. It will be okay. And you will be SO PROUD that he or she learned how to manage their own healthcare.

You will all be okay. Truly! Blessings for the big day ahead!



A back-to-school must

3 Aug

Your senior year is about to start, and you’re probably all stoked about back-to-school shopping for clothes and school supplies.

As you’re making out your shopping list, add one more thing…

A calendar.

In your senior year you will face more deadlines than you have had for the prior years all put together. A calendar is a must when there are big bucks consequences involved.

You can go one of two ways:

  • A real paper calendar, something that will fit easily into your backpack.
  • A virtual calendar–using your calendar app on your phone/device or something like Google Calendar.

The advantage of the virtual calendar is that you can have it remind you. In any case, though, I would backdate those deadlines, so you give yourself plenty of notice to get the college or scholarship application done. Schoolwork deadlines become all important, too, to keep your grades up during your senior year–colleges want to know that you’re challenging yourself and meeting those challenges.

Plan ahead now…and you’ll cruise through the next year just fine!

Hey there! More help for your senior year is right here–by reading through the blogs, starting with those posted in August, then those in September:

Coming soon:

50 Life Lessons for Grads: How to Save Time, Money, and Heartache — Worthy Publishing by Janet Holm McHenry