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Do students need to know the college major before applying?

As students work on college applications eventually

they land on each college's question: 

To What Major are You Applying?

For those who've not done the work to first know themselves and also know careers, this can be daunting question. It feels heavy to many students as they feel like it's a lifetime's not.

Parents who watched the TV show "Friends" will remember the episode where Phoebe talked about lobsters mating for life. Side note: lobsters don't mate for life but many other animals do (I had to look that up!).

Choosing a college major with the intent to pursue a future career is not a lifelong commitment like Phoebe thought lobster were making nor is it a prison sentence. Personally, I've had what I call 8 micro-pivots in my own 30+ year career, but there's an overarching purpose in what I've pursued. 

However, there are some college majors where if students don’t apply as a high school senior it will be difficult or impossible to switch into the major at some colleges after college has started.

Students interested in these majors at these schools should discern if this is their path while still in high school. Are you wondering why this is necessary, what majors, and how you can get that clarity to know if your student is wired for that work? Our sister brand, Flourish Coaching, where our founder Lisa Marker Robbins serves as Chief Inspiration Officer hosted a webinar deep dive to help college-bound families.

Flourish is 100% focused on helping high school students gain career clarity as part of their college counseling journey. 

If you are reading this and are a high school senior (or have one), then the clock is ticking. Applications are submitted between October 15 and January 15 each year - depending on where you apply. On occasion, I've worked with seniors who have already submitted and applied either undecided or to a major they discover during senior year is not their best fit, and they've been able to change their major before paying the college deposit.

If you or your high school student is not yet a senior, then time is on your side. Starting "on-time" working towards college major and career clarity will inform families which colleges are a fit. Nothing is more heartbreaking then a student falling in love with a college then later finding out that school doesn't offer the necessary major for the future career. Wondering if the time is right for coaching?  Take the Flourish College Major & Career Coaching Readiness Quiz here. 

What you’ll learn from the Flourish webinar recording on College Majors:

  • Why your major listed in college applications even matters.
  • How colleges admit students, by: major, college or university, and this impacts the ability to switch majors at many schools.
  • How this affects graduation and paying for college.
  • Common majors where my survey of college admissions officers, college, independent college counselors, and high school counselors have seen late choices of these majors be problematic for students.
  • The different types of college major changes and how it works: changes within a college, changes between colleges within a university, external transfers.
  • Questions to ask the colleges during the college search and well before paying a deposit.


Watch, learn, and be inspired to work toward career clarity as part of a high school student’s college counseling and journey.

Watch the Recording Here


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