As a parent, you want your child to grow up to have a successful future, to be happy in their chosen career and be financially stable.

So when it comes to their high school junior and senior year and they’re starting to make their first real-life decisions for themselves, you want to do all you can to make sure their choices are consistent with the kind of future you both have in mind.

One of these junior year decisions will be choosing where they want to attend college.

Parents tell us that they worry most about price, quality, safety and fit.

While they don’t have to have chosen their major before applying, it does make the whole college application and decision-making process so much easier. If they have some idea of what they want for a major, both of you will be better able to judge the quality of the school and improve your overall level of comfort.

So, how can you, as a parent, help your child make the best decision for their college major, ensure a smooth transition from high school to college, and set them up for success in the professional job market?

Do you know how to prepare your child for college?

Start Thinking About it Sooner Rather Than Later

While some kids will already know what they want to major in, many others won’t have any idea.

In fact, almost a third of college students change majors at least once during their college careers and a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that only 27% of college graduates work in a field related to their major.

Not having a clear idea of what major your child wants to focus on can slow their progression through college or worse.

Research has shown that the more prepared a child is before going to college, the better their success upon graduation.

Picking a major is just part of that preparation and choosing a major early (or at least understanding their academic interests) means that your child can use their remaining high school time focusing on academic and extracurricular activities that will make them a strong candidate for admission into their major of choice.

It can also narrow down the list of colleges to apply to, which can guide their research… saving time and money, and help them get their application in early.

But, what if your student doesn’t know what to major in?

Group of multicultural students sitting at table in library studying

If your young person is one of the many who don’t know what major to pursue, then there’s no need to panic. Your role is to help them figure that out, and again, the sooner the better! This is where communication is key.

Have the College Conversation

Having an open and honest conversation with your child about their college expectations is key, not only for choosing a major but for helping prepare them for all that college life will entail.

In this case, however, taking a moment to talk about their interests, hobbies, favorite or strongest academic subjects etc, can help direct them along their decision.

Of course, when it comes to teens, having serious conversations isn’t always so easy!

While all you may want to do is give them guidance and direction, they may feel you are ‘meddling’ or being overbearing. The goal here is to be involved but with balance.

Encourage them to broaden their horizons

If your child is truly clueless as to what college major to take, encourage them to broaden their horizons and try new things, and unique electives in various subjects that might be of interest.

By joining different clubs, exploring and having new experiences they will have a better understanding of what subjects they like, don’t like, or naturally gravitate towards.

Sit In On College Classes

This is an especially useful technique if your child has some idea or is stuck between different options.

If it’s possible, get in contact with your local college campus and sit in on a couple of classes.

This will give them the opportunity to get a feel for the subject, what concepts they will be learning, and if it’s something they see themselves being interested in.

Just keep in mind, if you opt for this approach, that college courses are at a higher level and require preparation, so your student isn’t likely to understand everything in a class that they observe. So don’t let that put them off!

Kickstart the college prep today!

Speak To Someone In A Related Profession

If your college-aged child has a vague idea of what profession they might want to enter after graduation, then try to get in touch with someone in a related career.

Having a chat with someone in a similar field will give them an insight into what majors would be useful and can give them other subject advice for minors and other such college tips.

Just be There to Support Them

Group of students talking to professor in college library

At the end of high school, applying for college, and making choices that will affect their future, your child will be under a lot of pressure.

Whether they like to admit it or not or ask for it, they will need your help. So it’s up to you as a parent to provide that guidance and support for them.

This time period is also confusing and frustrating for parents, as there is a plethora of information and misinformation floating around. It’s sometimes impossible to know where to look or what to believe, but here at College to Career Catalyst, I will help you learn how to be the best career counselor your child could ever wish for, cut through the clutter and get right to the core of what your young person needs from you.