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Why You Should Choose Your Career Before Your College Major

The average student switches his or her major three times before graduation. These frequent changes can be costly—tacking several semesters onto your college experience!

Student writing at desk while wearing headphones.

From a purely financial perspective, extending college by just one year can mean additional student loan debt and it means students forfeit one year of normal earnings. The total cost, with interest, can be well over $50,000. This isn’t great for the future state of your finances!

This raises the question: Why do students change degrees so often?

The most likely cause is that many students start college without knowing what they want their career to be. These major changes are sometimes a result of a moment of uncertainty – a difficult class, an argumentative professor, or a fear that the work won’t be satisfying.

The solution to this problem starts early. Middle school and high school students should be participating in job shadows and doing career exploration as part of normal class curriculum. These don’t need to be difficult – just calling a friend of the family or a family member and spending a day at their job can be very rewarding! Volunteerism is also a great way to get experience.

There are also a variety of online programs designed to help students explore careers. Here are some of our most-recommended resources for career exploration:

  • Education and skills requirements, job descriptions, internships, career outlooks, and salary ranges.
  • Indiana Career Explorer: Quizzes and tests that help students identify potential careers for further exploration.
  • College Scorecard: Salary data for first-year graduates by university.

Please remember, no resource can stand independent from real-world experience and good conversations with role models!

Choosing a major is easy – all college students are required to do it. Choosing a career is more difficult, but also far more rewarding.

If you or your student needs support in choosing a career, we’d love to help. Get in touch with our college team today!

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