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Choosing a major in the cereal aisle.

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

I'm afraid that for a lot of soon-to-be college students, choosing a major has become a lot like choosing a favorite box of cereal. As our kids are checking out their options they are mesmerized by the number of choices and distracted by the flashy colors, tempting photos and, ultimately, empty promises. ("Part of a healthy breakfast" usually means the healthy part is whatever else you're eating -- not the cereal!)

Their decisions are based on little more than what looks good, tastes good and feels good. It's rare to see a child reading the nutritional facts on the box or checking out the price per ounce. Cereal companies spend millions marketing to our children, and so do colleges and universities. But, just like cereal, all degrees are not created equally. And, not all kids have the same skills, abilities or financial means. We have to help our kids make wiser choices.

The truth is that nearly 75% (yes, 3 out of 4) students will change their major at least once before graduating. And, this will cost you/them thousands of extra dollars as their graduation is postponed in order to fulfill their new requirements. I probably don't need to point out that the extra expense is often compounded by the need for additional loans and interest payments carried out over a longer term.

But, some would say, isn't it unrealistic to expect a teen to choose a career path so early in life? Yes and no; while they may work in several different fields by the time they reach middle age, we can do a much better job directing them towards fields of study that fit their individual giftedness and that will yield the financial benefits necessary to make this monstrous investment worth it.

You can start today by encouraging your high school student to take one of the tests at There are several free tests that will help students discover their strengths, personality type and career interests. They will also have the opportunity to explore careers and occupations most suitable for their personality type and see examples of educational institutions where they can get a relevant degree or training. The test is quick and fun to take. We use a more detailed version of it in our 5 Major Steps workshop. You can also check out my free college resource guide for links to helpful websites, books and advice for college and career planning.

The price of college is astronomical. Allowing kids to choose a major on a whim is careless. Let's start reading the labels and making wise choices as we invest in our kids' future! What are your thoughts?


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