For Parents & Families

Welcome! We are glad you are here. Your support and encouragement can be very meaningful to students as they decide on a career path. This page answers common questions families have around majors and careers to help you have informed conversations with your student about their future.    

Choosing a Major

For most fields and professions, choosing a major is not equal to choosing a career. We encourage students to major in a subject that interests them because excitement generates engagement and investment, which can lead to more success overall. Although there are exceptions, in general, there are many paths that can lead to a particular job.

Instead of focusing on the major course of study as the sole determinant of a student’s employability, listen to what your student says they are interested in doing after graduation.  How can they do this type of work through the knowledge gained in their academic major as well as through additional experiences and skills?  

Common Questions:

Should students know their major right away so that they are on track to graduate in four years?

Graduating in 4 years is an average time period it takes students to complete a bachelor’s degree. However, this number does not apply to everyone as every individual’s situation is unique. Factors like high school classes, double majoring, and number of credit hours earned each semester can influence graduate date. Most majors do not require you to declare right away. Students can complete their All-University Core Curriculum (AUCC) classes in subjects like writing, science, and math while exploring what major appeals to them. We encourage students to be in close communication with their academic advisor to understand when they should declare a major and the appropriate classes to take if they want to complete school on a 4 year plan. There are academic advisors specifically for students who are exploring their major and have not declared.  For more information on advising, click here.  

Will my student get a job with this major?

Yes.

Some majors have clearly defined career pathways and some majors are known to lead to jobs with higher salaries. However, any major provides employable competencies. Some students prefer to major in a subject area that has many applications in the workforce to allow for freedom, flexibility, and creativity in where and how they utilize their skills.

Many college students cannot rely on classroom experience alone to be career ready. It’s a combination of classwork, applied experience outside the classroom, storytelling their experiences and skills, and building relationships in industries of interest. These are lifelong skills students gain from the Career Center, faculty, and staff, so that whatever career path they decide to explore at any time in their life, they know how to transition. The Career Center coaches students to help them clarify their interests, then determine classes, on-campus involvement, work experiences, and relationship building opportunities to get them ready for a variety of opportunities.

Should students focus all of their time on studying and getting good grades?

In short, no. 

We encourage students to learn the material well and participate in other aspects of college life that interest them. Employers look at the whole candidate and many are more interested in internships, leadership experience, and involvement than they are in GPA. Our recommendation for this question also depends on your student’s post-graduate plans. If they plan to attend graduate school, many graduate schools have an undergraduate GPA requirement. While some companies may be very selective about candidates and heavily consider GPA in their job selection process, this seems to be more of an exception than a rule. 

What are employers looking for from graduates?

Research shows that employers are looking for college graduates to have proficiency in the following ten career competencies. For more information about career competencies and their definitions, click here. 

  • Career Development
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Digital Proficiency
  • Global Context
  • Inclusive Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Personal Accountability
  • Self Reflection
  • Verbal & Written Communication

What can students do with their major?

We have a great resource dedicated to answering this question. You can check it out here. 

What happens if my student wants to change their major or career path?

Changing majors and/or career paths is a common and normal part of the higher education experience. As students learn more about themselves, what they want to study and do after college may change.  There are systems in place to support students navigating these changes. Academic Advising can be a great resource for changing majors and the Career Center can be a great resource for changing career paths. 

My student needs a part time job. Where can they get one?

We recommend that students start by looking at the job links in their RamWeb portal. Click on the menu bar at the top and it will drop down many options on the right hand side.  Click on Student Employment. This page has a link to Handshake, which lists internships, part-time jobs, full-time jobs, and on-campus jobs. There is also a link for local jobs, which are part-time jobs listed by community members and include opportunities like nannying, tutoring, and yard work.

How can my student gain experience while still in college?

Great question! Some ways include internships, working on campus, getting involved in campus organizations, volunteering, and taking part in programming from the Student Diversity Programs and Services offices. We created a handout to explain that here. There are also micro-internship opportunities that are shorter, project based opportunities that can be found through our partnership with Parker Dewey. We highly recommend students participate in one or more of these opportunities to gain experience and skills. 

How you can help your student

  • Remain open and receptive to ideas and possibilities you may not have heard of or that sound unique.  College is a time where students gain more independence and get to explore and discover. 
  • Encourage them to explore a number of options, courses, and clubs to learn more about their strengths, interests, and what excites them. 
  • The job market has changed significantly in the last 20-30 years. What worked for you in securing a job may not be as applicable for your student. If someone is in a questioning, exploring stage or struggling and not exactly sure what to do, it can be easy to want to offer a lot of advice. Sometimes guidance is really necessary and appreciated and sometimes your student may just want a listening ear or to bounce ideas off of you. To know what they want, you can ask “Are you open to hearing my feedback (opinion, perspective) about this topic?” 

Career Center Services  

Many career centers have a reputation of being a resume writing and job placement service.  This reputation is not an accurate representation of our services! We do not write resumes for students or place them into jobs. We teach them how to write stellar resumes and where to find appropriate jobs and also host events to connect them to a variety of companies who are hiring. We are educational in nature and teach students what they need to know so that they can feel empowered and confident in the job search. We are here to help students through their whole career development process. Our areas of expertise include: 

  • Career and major exploration
  • Finding internships and jobs
  • Developing application materials
  • Networking strategies
  • Interviewing skills
  • Ways to negotiate the final offer
  • Ways to navigate bias and identity disclosure in the job search

Our mission is to teach students what they need to know to not only land their first job after graduation, but also how to approach their career as a lifelong process. CSU students can access our services for free during their time at CSU and for one year after graduation. Alumni can receive career support through our dedicated Alumni Career Services Manager, Angela Hayes. For more information about Alumni Career Services, click here.  

If you are looking for additional resources for family members of CSU students, check out the Office of Parent & Family Programs.

If you are a student who is also a parent and would like to know what services are available to you, please check out the Adult Learner and Veteran Services Office.

 

RESOURCES

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Family Career Resource

Learn more about the opportunities available to your student during their time at CSU.

Click Here

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Recursos de Careera para Familias

Aprenda más sobre las oportunidades disponibles para su estudiante durante su tiempo en CSU.

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What Can I do with This Major?

Learn about potential career industries, employers, and strategies for success for different majors.

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