For Parents

Perhaps your son or daughter just departed for college, but your student seems to be struggling to choose a major and career.

This quandary in college is not unusual. Choosing a career is a process that students need experience, and students proceed through the stages of this process at different speeds.

Some of the career choosing steps include assessing their skills, interests and abilities; exploring majors and career options; experimenting with possible career options; and organizing and conducting a job or graduate school search.

As a parent, you can assist and support your child by practicing the following suggestions:

  • Affirm: We tend to take our abilities for granted. Share with your student your perspective on their skills and what they tend to enjoy.
  • Brainstorm: Help them learn about careers in which their interests, values and skills are essential.
  • Connect: If your student expresses interest in a career that you are not an expert, use your network to introduce them to people who are employed in that particular area.
  • Be patient: The process of choosing a career can be anxiety-producing. Remain calm as your student explores different careers.
  • Encourage: A student’s primary objective might be to successfully complete all of their courses and the decision of choosing a career may not be quickly reached. Recommend they make an appointment for career counseling.

What’s Important?

The college years are a time of exploration, experimentation, and learning on many levels for students and their parents. Some student challenges may seem more positive than others, but all contribute to the educational outcomes of the university experience. During these years, students will develop a “record of achievement” that will be eventually evaluated by employers and graduate schools.

There are several pieces to this record:

Academic achievement: 

The grade point average (GPA) is one factor considered by competitive employers and graduate schools. The GPA is one of the tangible indications of a student’s ability to learn and perform effectively, at least in the academic environment. Therefore, students need to perform well in the classroom, especially in courses in their major field of study.

Relevant work experience: 

In today’s competitive employment market, many employers seek students who have participated in internships, cooperative education, part-time jobs or volunteer experiences. In fact, employers often look to their own programs as primary sources for new hires. These experiences are particularly critical for liberal arts students whose majors may not appear to be directly related to their areas of career interest.

Responsible involvement outside the classroom: 

Extracurricular activities provide the opportunity for students to gain many valuable and career-related skills, such as the ability to work effectively with others in a team environment, leadership opportunities, planning and organizational skills, and priority-setting and time management. Many employers seek these qualities in their new hires.

If you have questions regarding how to best assist in your student’s career choices, call Career Services at 423.236.2069. While we are willing to assist parents with their role in their student’s educational process, we request that all students and alumni make appointments for themselves.