Top 10 Questions to Help your Student Narrow Down a Major

Choosing a major is no easy task. Besides tuition money and semester hours, your student’s future is at stake. Help ease the stress and guide your student to a decision with the following ten questions.

Note: It’s most beneficial if you write down everything she says, whether it’s something she thinks she might like, or something she would hate. Make note of her dreams as well as practical things to consider. This will help your student to see priorities she might not have known she had, as well as lay out a plan for how to proceed.

What are your passions?

Encourage your student to think about her passions and interests. Ask her to list everything from subjects in school to sports to places she’s been.

What motivates you?

Talk about areas of her life where she can pinpoint her motivation. If it’s sports, does she like the competition, being on a team or beating her personal records? If it’s volunteering, does she like working with children, making a difference in someone’s life or effecting change on a local level?

What are your interests?

Ask your student about subjects and issues that interest her, which she may have never explored or learned about before. Now is the best time to expand her horizon, and even choosing potential elective courses can help map out the future.

Where are your strengths and weaknesses?

List your students’ areas of strength and weakness. In addition to subjects in school, consider personality traits, like being a good listener, a visionary, a leader, etc.

What are your dreams?

Remember with your student what she used to talk about being when she grew up. What appealed to her when she was little, and is it the same now? What has changed and why? Help her pin down goals – both realistic and far-fetched – and expect her to explain why they’re important.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

Talk about career, relationships, finances, location, hobbies, etc. Allow your student to think big.

What practical issues do you need to consider?

If your student only has the finances to pay for four years of college, she will need to be strategic about every class, so she doesn’t lose any credits. Identify when a final decision needs to be made for a major. If graduate school is a possibility, talk about due dates for application, school locations and how much schooling will be required.

How much money do you want to make?

Starting salaries vary greatly between professions, as does growth potential. Help your student research the potential income she can expect, both as a newbie and someone established in the industry later in life.

How can you get a taste of what you might like?

Discuss possible internships, volunteer work or jobs that your student can apply for to gain real-world experience in the area she’s considering. Encourage her to look for professional associations and networks to join or visit, as well.

Who else can you talk to?

Regardless of how close your student is to picking a major, encourage her to talk to other people, like family members, a college advisor, upper-classmen, or professionals in a potential field of study. Not only will this help to build a network of support, it will also open your student’s eyes to new possibilities and ideas.

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