Comments in this story were first published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook community. They’ve been edited for clarity and flow.
Choosing a college major is a significant milestone. And while many students end up with traditional majors such as accounting, English, and political science, others explore less traditional options.
PFC 101 member Laura H. asked parents to share their students’ not so “run of the mill” picks.
As one parent noted, there’s no shortage of what students can study these days. Here are some highlights:
“Mine wants to major in Astrophysics. And eventually specialize in dark matter in space.” – Nancy S.
“I love seeing majors that weren’t even a thing when I went to college when dinosaurs roamed Texas — incredible options.” – Maria M.
Several parents said their children are interested in marine biology. Marine biology majors study topics such as the chemical makeup of water, the ocean’s geology, and marine mammals, according to the College Board.
“Marine biology for our Midwest kid,” said Cari P., adding that her son plans to move to either the West or East Coast for graduate school.
Maureen M., another Midwest parent, said her son has wanted to be a marine biologist since kindergarten. He graduated with a marine, estuarine and freshwater degree from the University of New Hampshire last year.
For students interested in marine biology, they should understand chemistry, the College Board notes. And be prepared to work with some land and ocean creatures.
“Marine Biology with a minor in Botany with a concentration in snails; both land and water snails.” – Jhylia E.
Students who are animal lovers can study about their furry friends. “Mine’s still a high school junior, so this could change, but likely looking at Animal Behavior. She wants to work with large exotic animals, like elephants or giraffes, in a conservation role. That could mean working in zoos, wildlife preserves, etc. We’re still working on finding the right schools for her list, but we’ve found interesting-sounding Animal Behavior programs at University of New England, Utica, Carroll (which I hadn’t heard of before) and Indiana University. She’s also found a couple in the United Kingdom worth considering.” – Nicole Z.
Utica College in New York state describes its animal behavior students as having “always been fascinated by how and why animals behave the way they do.”
Donna M. noted that her child wants to study animal science. The animal science major is a popular one for students who enjoy working with animals. Students in this program might take classes like principles of animal science, animal nutrition, and animal reproduction and development.
Some students even know what type of animals they plan to work with after graduation.
“Canine training and management. She plans on working on service dogs.” – Theresa R.
Pamela G. said that her son is studying criminology/psychology. “Years of watching Criminal Minds will do that to ya! He loves it and wants to get in with the FBI once he completes law school.” – Pamela G.
Some other parents also mentioned their children are considering careers in the FBI, perhaps due to popular TV shows. “My daughter will major in informatics with a concentration in cybersecurity with minors in computer science and forensics. She wants to be a data analyst for the FBI.” – Cindy D.
Parents also noted cybersecurity as an area of study, including Jenni D., who said all three of her kids decided to study in that field.
“My daughter wants to do 3D character animation. She is still a high school senior but is applying and hoping to get into Ringling College of Art and Design for 2023-2024.” – Joseph M.
Some parents talked about the arts as an area that interests their children. Moms and dads mentioned digital media, while others talked about interior design or fashion.
“My daughter is majoring in Fashion Merchandising.” – Terri A.
Dana L.’s daughter is also interested in fashion and was just accepted to Kent State in its fashion design program.
Christi C. said her son will study sound engineering with a minor in business. “He wants to go on tour with bands and be the head sound guy.”
Some parents shared specifics of what their children plan to do with their degree. “My second-year daughter is an Architect major with a minor in theater set design. She wants to build sets for Broadway or Hollywood. She works in the school’s fabrication shop helping other students build things. She also welds.” – Jamie H.
American Sign Language
“My daughter wants to major in American Sign Language Interpreting.” – Karla G.
Karla is not the only parent who mentioned American Sign Language as a field of study. “American Sign Language interpretation with heavy sprinkling of astronomy and voice.” – Becky A.
Students who study American Sign Language can often find jobs as a teacher, speech language pathologist, or ASL interpreter.
It’s Okay to Be Undecided
It’s important to remember that while it varies by school, most students don’t need to have their major declared the second they step onto campus. “My daughter tells me that it is insane to think that she at 17 should know what she wants to be in life. And I agree!” – Mirela J.
Other parents echoed Mirela’s thoughts, noting that their children are still unsure of what to do with their lives.
“My daughter has been changing her mind: environmental science, then art history (to work in museums) and now forensic anthropology. We will pick an affordable university that has lots of choices.” – Patty A.
Parents were quick to note that students really do eventually figure out their majors. And sometimes they’re not even close to what they thought they’d study.
“My son started undeclared but is now Cognitive Science with an emphasis on Machine Learning and Neural Computation (It’s a mouthful!).” – Carolyn W.
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