Aparna Huprikar and Jamie Lewis
UFit College Consulting
As parents, we want our kids to go to college and find their passions that they can convert into a meaningful career, preferably one that earns them a decent salary and allows them to be independent. No parent wants their young adult returning from college with a degree that only affords them a room in the basement of their family home. Without sounding too clinical and practical, how can parents guide their children to find a major in college that fulfills them and provides a decent return on their college education?
High school is a great time to explore academic interests outside of the core high school graduation requirements. Students should consider enrolling in electives offered by their high school and use their summers to discover fields that might interest them. For example, a student who wants to explore a more niche area of study in weather science could take courses in meteorology, seismic science, climate change, etc., at a local college, attend seminars or workshops hosted by organizations specializing in these fields, or sign up for an online class. Students can also gain real-life experience through job-shadowing and internships. Students interested in law or medicine can find opportunities at local hospitals or legal-aid clinics, where they can volunteer their time and learn from professionals. If they are interested in politics, perhaps they can take a course in public policy or volunteer to work with a local politician. The idea here is to show students the practical application of their interests in the real world.
Most students don't get much time in high school to truly reflect on what they would like to pursue as a major or career. They don't understand what a job in a particular field entails. They don't necessarily even know about the abundance of configurations and combinations of majors and minors that they can pair up and study in college to reach their ideal future job or career. You may be asking, “How can they possibly be expected to know what career they want at 17 years old?” We are not suggesting your teenagers pick a major or career and carve it in stone. Rather, we suggest they take the time to explore as many options as possible, and reflect on what they care about and might want to do in the future. This way they will be more likely to start their college studies in the right neighborhood, even if they change their mind about the specific house a few times.
In addition to exploring different subjects and careers in high school, there are many personality tests and questionnaires in the form of multiple-choice questions that purport to help your student find a career that is suited to them. In reality, this format does not allow students to really reflect about themselves; they simply fill-in bubbles from a stated list of options. These questionnaires result in a generic, computer-generated conclusion based on weights assigned to the questions answered. In our opinion, this is not a valuable way to gauge your teenager's interests or personality.
At UFIT College Consulting, we have created a proprietary questionnaire with open-ended questions that delve deeply into a student's personality, strengths, and passions. It is an exercise in self-reflection that provides better insight into a student's mind. The consultants at UFit analyze these answers and prepare a document that showcases the various majors a student can pursue and the careers they can choose to realize their life goals. This exercise equally benefits students who have specific interests and those who are undecided. It also helps illuminate areas they can explore through classes, volunteer work, and internships and informs a student's potential college list and application strategy while creating a strong college application that tells a cohesive story with greater clarity, particularly if the student is applying to a particular major or department within a college. For parents, it provides relief knowing that their students have some foundational direction that they can build upon to create a successful college experience.
If you would like your student to fill out this questionnaire and/or receive help finding specific ways to explore their interests, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.