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Guiding the Undecided Student- Is Declaring a Major Imperative?

Cyndy McDonald interviewed Joyce Vining Morgan, author of Admissions Matters to discuss the question, “Is Declaring a Major Imperative”. In this very insightful interview, Joyce answered the following questions:
  • Does selecting the “right” college for a student require the selection of a specific major first?
  • Many students are undecided about the direction they want to go for a major. How does being “undecided” affect a student’s path to Higher Education?
  • As counselors, how can we best guide our undecided students?

We wanted to share resources Joyce cited in her interview.  As a counselor, you can  include these materials in your arsenal of resources as you talk to students and parents.
What Should Graduates Know?

By Nicholas Lemann
January 08, 2016
Published in Chronicle of Higher Education

“Spending 10 years as a professional-school dean preoccupied with the question of what the suite of requirements should be for students habituated me to thinking about curriculum, and I have been noodling around with ideas about undergraduate education. What would produce a version of what it means to be a college graduate, regardless of one’s major, that would be as clear and strong as stipulating what it means to be a professional-school graduate? My own preference is to create a canon of methods rather than a canon of specific knowledge or of great books — that is, to define, develop, and require instruction around a set of master skills that together would make one an educated, intellectually empowered, morally aware person. (emphasis added.)

Here is a quick list of possibilities:

  1. Rigorous interpretation of meaning, taught mainly through close reading of texts.
  2. Numeracy, including basic statistical literacy.
  3. Pattern and context recognition.
  4. Developing and stating an argument, in spoken and written form.
  5. Visual and spatial grammar and logic.
  6. Understanding how information is produced, how to locate it, and how much faith to put in it.
  7. Empathetic understanding of other people and other cultures.
  8. Learning to explore rigorously the relationship between cause and effect and to draw plausible inferences.

I should emphasize that I am advocating developing courses that are specifically aimed at creating those capabilities, rather than declaring that existing courses that are notionally about something else will confer them.”

This message connects to the message from Maria Furtado, Executive Director of Colleges That Change Lives, in her interview with Cyndy in January, about “The Value of a Liberal Arts Education for Generation Z”.

What Kind of Jobs Can English Majors Get?

By Jon Boeckenstedt
DePaul University
Published in Higher Ed Data Stories (his blog)

“What kind of jobs can I get if I major in English? (Lots) Do I have to major in science to go to medical school? (No) Do actors have to go to a Theater program? (No).  All these sound like conventional wisdom, but now, thanks to my friends at Human Capital Research Corporation, we have some better answers.  The data set they put together is based on The American Community Survey (ACS) of the Census Bureau, a small but statistically significant sample of the US Population.  It asks questions that include occupation and college major (for those who are working, and for those who have a bachelor’s degree).  The data below contains over 3 million individual responses to these questions (for people in the labor force between the ages of 25 and 60 with a bachelor’s degree).”

Jon includes data in three charts:

  1. Majors and Career
  2. Occupation by Major
  3. Majors to Occupation.

In the Majors and Career chart, select a major from the “College Major Group”. The careers people are in, with that major are listed below.  I checked out the “English” majors.  It was interesting to see the top four careers are:  1. Elementary and Middle School Teacher (8%) , 2. PostSecondary Teacher (7%) , 3) Writer, Editor or Public Relations Specialist (6%), 4) Lawyer/Judge (5%). Wait? To be a judge you should study English?  And studying English helps you in Business, as a PR or Editor?  Makes sense-  communications is key for both those careers, and who is better prepared than an English Major?

Check out Jon’s entire Higher Ed Data Story on What Kind of Jobs can English Majors Get?

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