How To Talk With Your Family about Major Decisions

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If your family has a preference for your choice of major, have you had a conversation with them to really understand their point of view? Share what you are considering with your family along with all the information you have gathered.

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Step 1. Explore majors before talking to your family

This process is crucial for you to decide on your major and it also helps tremendously when you explain why you have chosen a particular major to your family. Present the information gathered from your research and your CAPE coach about your chosen field of study.

Think about if you would like to stay in the U.S. or go back to your home country after graduation, and look for corresponding career information. A thorough exploration prepares you to answer questions your family may have about your major, such as your interest in relation to the major, job prospects in the area where you plan to work, and so on.

Your exploration shows that you have put thought and effort into your decision-making process, which may dispel some of your family’s doubts.

Step 2. Know your family’s intentions and reasons behind the major they want you to pursue

If your family has a specific major or a career in mind that differs from what you would like to do, ask questions about why they favor that particular field and try to understand their perspectives.

Your willingness to listen and understand helps communication and they, in turn, may be willing to do the same. Keep in mind that your family wants the best future for you.

Step 3. Prepare your arguments

Once you understand your family’s reasoning, you can construct your arguments backed up by the information you have gathered. Focus on the long-term prospect of your field of study rather than your first job out of college, as industries and jobs come and go but the skills and disciplines you acquire from studying your major stay.

Prepare to educate your family about the U.S. education system and job search process (if you are interested in gaining work experience in the U.S.) since families are often unaware of those differences. Also, you may bring up your academic performance in your chosen field of study and show your family that you are good at doing what you are interested in.

Step 4. Take time and give it some space

Today, we are used to constant communication and immediate responses. If you approach this decision-making process with the same mindset, you may become frustrated.

Know that this can be a process and a series of conversations may be needed. You and your family need some time to digest the information so that everyone can communicate again in a calm manner.

Step 5. Find places where compromise can be made

After gaining a better understanding of your options as well as your family’s intentions and possible flexibility, think about compromises you and your family could make.

You may be willing to pursue an individualized degree to encompass your interest and family’s interest within the same degree, or your parents may be supportive of you pursuing a major in a different field if it has career options that meet their approval.