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How to Help Your Teen Choose a College Major or Program

Teens Choose a College Major

Many teens go to college each fall without knowing what they want to do for a lifetime career. Some show up having known for years, but if your child does not fall into that category, you can help them figure out a lifelong career track. Most colleges require them to declare a major at the end of their freshman year, which gives you and them a little time.

What Interests Your Teen?

Have your teenager make a list of the clubs, organizations, and athletic activities in which they participate. Also, list the hobbies they independently pursue. Your teen might love reading about graphic design and commercial artwork, spouting off facts like how color improves brand recognition by up to 80%. They might know how to use computer-assisted design programs already.

Viable fields in which they can use those artistic talents include advertising, marketing, home design, and regional planning. Someone who loves playing football but doesn't have the size or talent to play professionally could establish a career as a coach, trainer, team doctor, analyst, or work in the business side of the sport. Interests lead to careers.

Hands-On Jobs Versus Office Jobs

Talk to your teen about how they enjoy working. Let's say they love numbers and statistics. There's more than one way to apply that love of numbers. Do they love sitting in the library reading or working on a paper, or do they live for field trips? Is chemistry or shop class one of their favorites because they get to learn by doing? The office job fan might enjoy a job as a statistician or analyst, while the hands-on fan would do well as a chemist, welder, or engineer. A hands-on job can start with your teen applying to a trade school. They can learn how to weld, about the construction industry, or how to fix cars. Since a car is stolen in the U.S. every 41 seconds, your teen could help fix people's broken vehicle lock systems for enhanced safety!

Help Your Teen Set Up a Day to Shadow a Professional

Once your teenager has a shortlist of potential occupations, you can help them investigate the particulars by helping them set up a shadowing day. Contact a family member, friend, or associate who works in an occupation they think they want to pursue and set up a day for them to go to work with them. This requires their employer's permission; unless your friend is self-employed, they must have their company's agreement on this. Liability issues exist and your teen will probably have to sign off on a few waivers with your co-signature. This can provide an accurate picture for them of what the day-to-day job would be like.

Does Your Teen Have an Entrepreneurial Side?

Perhaps your child already participates in Future Business Leaders of America or a similar organization. Maybe they have built a lemonade stand every year for as long as you can remember. Even if their entrepreneurial nature lends itself toward wanting to work with you fixing things around the house, take heart. Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, more than 100 major projects during the next five years will require flanges, piping, and various pipe fittings, so they could work as a plumber or on an oil rig. Your teen could even become the leader of a plumbing business or within another type of profitable industry.

Be Supportive and See Their Side

Perhaps they have a pipe dream career in your eyes. Your teen might want to become a video game tester or a professional video gamer. Alas, very few people make a decent income doing that, but you could direct them towards a career in video game design and app development. A degree in computer programming could benefit them in many ways, and they could apply their skills in a variety of projects. So, when they grow up a little, they can develop the next version of Microsoft Office or Corel's photo suite.

You can help your teenager find a viable career within their interests. It takes a little creative thinking and encouragement. Help them plan their future with the knowledge that they cannot live at home forever and will need to move out and pay their own rent. You can help them find a job they would enjoy doing to earn their way in the world. Then, they can declare their major or choose the best program for them.