How to Help Your Child Choose a College Major They'll Stick With

St. Agnes Academy
If you’re the parent of a high-schooler, you might be wondering how to help your child choose a college major. Learn what you and your child can keep in mind when choosing a college major. 
According to a 2022 survey, 61% of college graduates reported that they would choose a different college major if they could travel back in time. If given the chance, some respondents would have chosen a major that better aligned with their passions, and others would have selected a field of study with higher earning potential or better job prospects.

The college major a student chooses today has the potential to significantly impact your daughter’s life for years to come. Whether your child is just starting high school or is preparing to begin their college journey, it is vitally important to carefully consider which college major or majors might be the best fit for them personally, professionally, and academically.

Let’s explore some of the key factors related to how to help your child choose a college major they’ll want to stick with throughout their journey. You’ll also discover some tips for helping you and your high-schooler navigate these major decisions together. 

Steps for How to Help Your Child Choose a College Major

For some students, choosing a college major can be overwhelming.
  • How will they know if they’ve made the right choice?
  • What happens if they change their mind?
  • What if they become passionate about something new while in college?
Parents are tasked with helping their children find answers to their questions and gather the information they need to make an informed decision they can feel confident about for years to come.

It’s important for parents to understand that they can’t pick a major for their child, but they can certainly help steer them in the right direction. You can do this by supporting their research efforts, offering advice, and even sharing your own personal experiences.

It is also worth remembering that even though it's a great idea to stick with a major, it is very common for students to switch majors during college. So, it's okay even if your child does not finish with the same major they started with.

In the end, flexibility is key, but the following steps can at least help you and your daughter get started on the right path. When your child is ready to choose a major, here are a few questions to ask to help them make an informed decision.

1. What Are Your Child’s Strengths?

In today’s academic landscape, students have the opportunity to pursue just about any area of study that may interest them. This means that students can often pursue their specific passions at the collegiate level.

For some students, being able to match up a passion with a college major is easy and straightforward. For example, if a student is an accomplished pianist, it may be a no-brainer for them to major in music.

Similarly, students with particular academic strengths may gravitate towards certain related college majors and minors. If a student excels in math but is less engaged in their high school English classes, they might want to tailor their college education to math-centric fields like accounting, finance, and even computer science.

Parents can help their children initially narrow down the field of potential majors by encouraging them to factor their current academic performance and extracurricular areas of interest into their degree plan.

2. What Are Her Career Prospects?

If your child is choosing between a few different majors, it can be helpful to speak to them about the different career prospects associated with each field of study. In the aforementioned survey, 30% of millennial respondents cited job prospects as the primary reason they would have opted to pursue a different college major.

The job market fluctuates constantly, which means it can be hard to predict how any given college major will influence a person’s future career path. However, statistics are available that help to highlight the employment and unemployment rates of different college majors. 

Reviewing key data points with your child can help provide concrete reasoning for choosing one major over another when all other things are equal. Then, they will be better equipped to find a job after graduating from college.

Alternatively, your daughter may decide to enter college with an undecided major first. She could take care of general education courses during her freshman year while exploring different majors she is interested in.

Students are more likely to stick with an official major once they have a better idea of the right path to pursue. Schools across the country are embracing this strategy to help students find the right major once they have a firm grasp of how things work at the collegiate level.

3. What Are the Admissions Implications?

Some programs at various colleges and universities are highly competitive and impose strict quotas on students with specific majors. For example, many elite arts programs only accept a small number of BFA students each year. Similarly, pre-law and pre-med programs often limit the number of students accepted to each cohort.

It is important to consider how your child’s intended major might impact their admissions odds and – in some cases – their financial aid prospects. Many families rely on scholarships, student loans, and other forms of financial aid to offset college costs.

Many schools offer scholarship funding for students within specific fields of study, and even more third-party organizations limit their scholarship and grant programs to students with particular college majors.

If your child is interested in a highly competitive major, it is important to take steps to ensure their applications are as strong as possible to enhance their chances of being accepted to the program of their choice.

The college decision process effectively begins during a student’s freshman year of high school, so it’s important for students and their parents to discuss how best to begin working toward these crucial long-term goals.

Need More Help with Your Child’s College Future?

The College Counseling Department at St. Agnes offers in-depth support for students and parents navigating the college admissions process. We aim to help your daughter start college with confidence that she is on the best path.

If your child is struggling to select a college major, our team can provide detailed information about all of the options available to today’s college students, as well as information about switching majors, double majors, and other degree paths.

Reach out today to speak to a member of the college counseling team about how to help your child choose a college major. We will work together to ensure your child is set up for future success.