Picking the right major right out of High School can be as hard as it is stressful for a lot of students. Questions race through students’ minds as they try to juggle what they love to do with the amount of money they are spending on higher education. Students also have to think about getting a guaranteed job once they graduate, and if they get a position, how much money they will make from this job.
Keene State College is one of the many Liberal Arts Colleges in the country. It offers 41 areas of study, and a majority of those are not considered Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs. Sometimes though, once a student has picked their major, their parents express concern about their child’s choices for the future.
Junior Erika Kucks is a theater major with an acting specialization. “I’m at a Liberal Arts College and everyone has different interests, [acting] just happens to be mine… My dad said I was going to be a starving actor and if that’s what I’m going to be then that’s what it’s going to be.”
Kucks has changed her major a few times since coming to KSC and most recently was an elementary education major. She said she needed the change because her major did not make her happy.
“It does worry me and I get stressed about what’s next after college,” said Kucks. “But I think I have so many opportunities.”
Sophomore Rachel Maragnano is a film production major and went through a similar situation with her parents. Maragnano said the way she was able to get them to come around was by having a dinner with her professors and talking about what film production looks like in class and what her options are after college.
“They’ve been kind of excited since then. My mom is also really nervous about it, because she thinks no one can get a job from [film production], but it helped them see that a lot of our film graduates do go on to get good jobs.”
Maragnano said that no matter what the major, “you can definitely show [parents] that what you are doing can actually be important work.”
KSC Academic and Career Advisor Beverly Behrmann said that students shouldn’t worry too much about finding a job that exactly fits their major, as long as they are able to market the skills they have learned during their time in college.
“I hear from recruiters all that time that your major isn’t necessarily important–it’s your experiences. It’s your skills that you bring to the table,” said Behrmann. She said that these “transferable skills” are what employers look for in students that makes them employable.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified four must-have career ready competencies for college graduates. They include critical thinking and problem solving skills, professionalism and work ethic, teamwork, leadership and communication skills, as well as computer skills.
The Office of Academic and Career Advising offers a wide range of options for students to learn about how to market themselves to employers. On top of that, many events they hold throughout the semester is to get students to work on their resume and get them connected with potential employers, they also offer one-on-one resume help.
“I understand the stress and anxiety a parent may have about their child getting a degree and not knowing what to do with it.. But if a student is pushed into something they don’t want to do, there is a potential there for them to fail,” said Behrmann. “If they do something they really love…And they are able to express what they have learned, I’m going to value that as an employer. I’m going to see that you have taken your experiences and you can translate them to the real world context and that’s what is important.”
Alyssa Salerno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org