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High school students should start thinking about a college major

Thursday, August 30, 2012
As you complete your college applications, you may come across a section asking you to name your intended major. For many high school seniors, the thought of selecting a major can spark panic, as it means they must make a decision about their future.

To put these students' minds at ease, Dr. Mary Hawkins, president of Nebraska's Bellevue University, recently offered her advice on selecting a college major.

Why is choosing a major important?

One of the things that is definitely true is that majors matter. What you do in college will or can impact [your life]. There are careers and preparation for careers that create differences among your earning potential and what your capacity is.

If students have unlimited resources, then this won't really apply to them, but if they have limited resources, the more time they take, or the more changes they make in their college path, the more money they will spend on school. Those two things are just a reality - majors matter and the longer you spend in college or the more you change majors, the more you are going to spend, not just in time, but in dollars.

What can students do in high school to start thinking about a college major?

High school students should really hone in on some fields of interest - they have guidance counselors, career services and other types of things - and then very pragmatically decide. If they are undecided [on their major], they can earn some of their general education credits in a fairly cost-effective way and in a way that they can transfer it.

Is it OK to begin college without selecting a major?

There are two parts to that answer. On a personal basis, I think it is OK to be undecided for a while. On a reality-check basis, if the students are using financial aid or financing their education in certain ways, they may be forced into [picking a major]. For financial aid to work, you have to be taking courses that count toward your degree. The question on your major on the college application sometimes relates to that financial aid issue. Most colleges will provide very good advice and counseling in this area.

I would think that those students could identify a general domain. For example, are you interested in math and engineering? Did you do well in math, or do you like the social sciences? They can make some of these decisions without hurting themselves downstream.ADNFCR-16000756-ID-800853319-ADNFCR - helping you find colleges and universities that offer the accredited programs that most interest you.

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