Why is it So Difficult to Decide on Your Teen’s University Major?
Special thanks to our beloved student Karen who contributed to many graphics for Giraffe blogs.
The Struggles You Face When it Comes to Your Teen’s University Majors
Parents and teens face two major struggles when facing the choice of a university major:
1. As an open-minded parent, you know that it is essential for your teen to choose the major aligning with her passion and strength. However, you fail to identify a clear focus. Your daughter can have a wide range of interests, hobbies, and passions. More amazingly, these interests, hobbies, and passions change from year to year. Even though well-rounded teens can have the most potential, when it comes to picking a career path, you and your teen become overwhelmed. Unlike your neighbor’s kid who has singular passions or has stuck with the same notion of what job they want to have since elementary school, figuring out your teen’s career path may be more challenging.
2. In other cases, your teen may want to pursue a major in visual arts or poetry, but you worry that he will be incapable of paying his bills. Once the practical preferences of the parent do not coincide with the wants and passions of the student, conflicts happen. The parent-kid relationship suffers tragically when you tend to harshly impose the major on your son. Even when your son has the intention to select an ok major, you can’t stop questioning if he has made the best choice.
Where Do These Struggles Come From?
One of the largest analyses on career decision-making difficulties was conducted by Gati, Krausz, and Osipow in 1996. These scholars researched across the globe and categorized decision-makers’ problems into three themes: lack of readiness, lack of information, and inconsistent information.
Based on the previous studies, Kelly and Lee (2002) further examined the decision-making difficulties regarding major and career and tested the different factors with a large cohort of students (Yates, 2018). They concluded the three challenges faced by students and parents:
Lack of information
Disagreement with others
Lack of Information
Lack of information is, by far, the most significant challenge faced by parents and students when it comes to major and career path selection.
This category covers a lack of information about the process of research, the job market, the education and skills requirement, the specific occupations, unreliable information, or the student him or herself.
Each student has his/her own strengths, weaknesses, and values. However, many of them need professional guidance in discovering their personal character traits. Simply speaking, they need deep conversations with adults, and the assistance of personality tests to better understand who they really are. The sooner the student gains a holistic view of himself, the sooner he becomes certain about his major selection and future career.
Additionally, parents and students lack information about the choice of universities, their majors and programs offered, and the connection between major and career path. Finding the best-fit university alongside with choice of major requires an intensive amount of research, experience, and expertise.
Indecision often comes from anxiety when making vital decisions for a teen’s life. Entering Grade 11 and 12, your teens face tremendous academic pressure. Students and parents can feel particularly anxious about being specific about the major in case things do not turn out well. Parents tend to keep options open for as long as possible to not narrow down their kids’ selection pool. Nevertheless, such behavior only makes students more anxious when their friends become clear in future careers.
Disagreement with Others
The third aspect, disagreement with others, incorporates the disagreement between parents and the teen. It happens when the family does not agree with or support the student’s decision to pursue a major. Parents may feel the choice will not fulfill certain needs of their beloved kid in the long run. Or they may feel the investment of going to a university brings minimal return. Regardless of the reason, when tension forms between parents and teens, one best way is to consult an intermediary who can provide advice based on the perspectives of both parties. It is often possible to find a new major that correlates to both the student’s passion as well as meeting the parent’s pragmatic desire.
How Can Giraffe Learning Career Path Section Service Help You?
We know the pain you have regarding the selection of a university major. Your teen is unique, and purely relying on experience can be preferential or even discriminatory. That’s why we have developed a data-driven approach, leveraging 20+ years of credited databases across North America, personality tests backed up with decades of research, and interest questionaries designed through robust theoretical models to give a 360-degree overview of your kid.
Yates, J. (2018). The career coaching toolkit. Routledge.