My son is a junior in high school with a 3.8 GPA but he can’t define what he wants to
do in life. His mother and I have been telling him to pick something even if it is wrong.
This will at least give him some focus and direction so that we may line up potential
colleges. What do you recommend?
The Career Doctor responds:
I totally agree with you that having an idea of potential future career plans helps in many ways including finding colleges that have strong
programs in that field. The problem unfortunately is that many people
struggle over the course of their lives in trying to find their ideal careers –
so the likelihood of a 16-year-old doing so is small. Many college students
go through multiple majors before settling on one.
I going to suggest some exercises for your son to take that may help him
begin to identify one or more career paths but unless something clearly
emerges from the process the best suggestion I have would be to narrow
the choices on some of the other major criteria students use such as entrance
requirements size location costs (and financial assistance) type (public/private)
reputation/ranking degrees offered and accreditation.
So where should your son start in trying to identify possible careers and majors?
The keys are self-assessment and research. The first step is identifying favorite
courses and activities — then looking for common elements among them. He
should also examine his strengths and weaknesses focusing more on his strengths.
Because some people have a hard time with introspective activities one or more
self-assessment tests can help him discover more things about himself — and some
tests even suggest potential careers based on the results.
The second phase is research. First researching careers that match his interests
and strengths and then talking with people in those careers to discover more about
the career paths and how they got there (including colleges majors degrees). He
should even consider hands-on research such as job shadowing and volunteering.
Finally he should research colleges and universities that offer majors/degrees for
his potential careers.
And for the latest on trends and issues with college admissions go to the
Answers to Common
College Admissions Questions published on Quintessential Careers.