Choosing a Career Impacts College _ Major Choice

In Brian’s junior year of high school, he was determined to become a petroleum engineer, the highest-paid field of engineering. While the lucrative income had stars in his eyes this field was also fueled by his love of science and math as well as successfully navigating a college-level first-year engineering course while a junior high school student.

His Midwest family set out on a whirlwind tour of Texas engineering schools. Not much later, he abandoned his petroleum engineering dreams that would take him far from home then set his sights on more general engineering fields such as electrical and mechanical engineering with the goal of attending a college closer to home.

At the start of his senior year of high school, he applied to selective engineering programs at in-state universities where he was likely to be admitted due to his strong academic performance, pursuing rigorous courses in high school which now included a second college level engineering course, and an excellent ACT score.

Brian’s Problem Emerges

But by February of his senior year with college applications already submitted for engineering programs, he had again changed his mind on his major to pharmacy. This was a far more drastic change. Questions swirled in his mind like will the colleges allow a major change now after he’s been accepted for engineering? Are the schools where he applied his best bet for a career in pharmacy?

His parents had different doubts and began to worry as college deposit day, May 1st, and high school graduation drew near. Does their son know himself and the careers well enough to even make such a big decision? If he keeps changing his mind, will he continue to do so in college and what will that mean?

When it came to college counseling during high school this family had utilized the limited resources his school had available and sought outside help for ACT prep and his college essay, but that was it. They actually didn’t even realize career counseling for teens was even available. With deposit day only six weeks away, the family reached out, on the advice of a friend, for emergency college major and career counseling. While the timing was less than ideal, my old adage, “It’s never too late”, kicked into play.

When a frazzled and overwhelmed mom, who really just wanted to be planning a graduation party,  explained the vacillating journey to a college major, I inquired whether they knew pharmacy would be a 6-year program, include PCAT testing (the ACT/SAT of pharmacy programs), and applications to pharmacy programs in the sophomore year with a possible transfer to a school where he gains entry to the PharmD program. They were shocked. One of his three final college choices where he was admitted doesn’t even have a pharmacy program, so transfer would be required. Brian really did not like the idea of starting at a school, establishing friendships, and then having to leave.

A Timely Solution

At this point, party planning stopped when they applied the brakes and asked for emergency college major and career counseling before paying a deposit at his future college. Fortunately back then, I was able to fit this in for them.

His coaching investment with me was less than the cost of textbooks for a semester in college and potentially saved thousands of dollars in tuition, extra years in college, and future stress and anxiety.

One of the starting points of my coaching, after the student has submitted their Flourish student profile and taken their Birkman Assessment, is to run a report that compares the student personality traits to those of the adult working population who are happily working in a wide range of careers.

As it turns out, Brian’s scientifically based coaching program with me revealed he was about a 10% match on his wiring looking like happy engineers and 30% as a pharmacist and other healthcare-related fields.

A College Major Switch

The bottom line is there are much better matches for Brian which highlight his aptitude for math and scientific problem-solving skills. Together I gave him a framework to explore these other fields through a lens of evaluating careers for personal fit and future flourish. He was going to have to move quickly through my framework to meet the May 1st deadline…which he did. He changed course a third time and enrolled in a top business program at The Ohio State University (they granted permission for a change of major before he even enrolled) and eventually focused more specifically in finance.

In 2019, Brian graduated in just 4 years, a feat only 41% of those who start college achieve. He has no college debt and is thriving in his career in finance.

While it all turned out well, families can save themselves time, stress, and potentially money, but getting a much earlier start with our coaching which is now offered only 2 to 3 times per year in our online course.