Own It

Ss, how many of you (advisors) have been confronted with the following scenario?

Student: I’m thinking about a minor and want to talk about it

You: OK, what minor and why?

S: well, I really love fitness, so I’m thinking of minoring in.

You: Why not as a major, then?

S: Well I was talking to a friend and he said the major is really hard…

If you have been part of this exchange, what was your response? My first inclination is to shout at them and say, “Shut out the noise!”  Then I calm down.

Students, you need to own your decision and do so by finding your own true meaning in your life/college career. Don’t listen to anyone’s cautionary tales about what major will get you the best job. The truth is, you will be the only one responsible for finding a job. Yes, you’ll take what you learn here and use it to your advantage, but work experience and internships play as much of a role in your quest for employment as your college major plays. And yes, every job requires a certain kind of degree and sometimes in very specific fields, but you mustn’t confuse your college education for job training.

Neither should you forsake the fact that many employees are seeking “soft skills” or “transferable skills” that are best learned in humanities based majors. Transferable skills, as they’re frequently referred to, include verbal and written communication, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to function on a team. A colleague of mine wrote a really good piece on this a while back.


In short, my personal belief is that you need to own the discipline with which you have affinity. Don’t treat your desired field as a secondary interest–declare it, excel at it, and you will find work. If you choose your alternative plan from the start, you’ve given up too soon. You will miss 100% of the pitches at which you do not swing.


About Art

I've been a higher education professional for over 15 years and an Academic Advising administrator for the past eight of those. I have a background in exploratory student advising and have spent a great deal of time guiding students through contemplating their personal college-to-career pathways. I've published, presented, and consulted on the intersection of social media and academia and am a firm believer in social media's power as a tool for engagement rather than solely information delivery. I've worked at public and private institutions as well as 2-year colleges and 4-year universities. I believe in Academic Advising as a teaching and learning activity, that learner-centered education is the key to students' academic success, and that as long as we keep students' individual goals and success at the center of our decision-making process, the problem of college-level student attrition can be solved.
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