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Major And Career Path

Major Choice and Career Path — A New Series

I will be starting a series on major choice and career options after running into repeated situations of students unsure of major choice because they don’t fully understand what jobs might be available to them.

What finally got me motivated was something that happened a few days ago. A student reached out to me asking if she could ask me a few questions. It seems she is starting her third year at a community college — the first two years, she was majoring in Sociology, but felt it was too easy and she wanted something hard (her word) so chose Biology. She started her bio journey last fall and had taken three courses for the Bio major —  a beginning bio course, beginning chem course and calc 1. In all three she received a C grade. She was concerned that this was going to cause a problem.

First, I agreed that Biology is a very selective major and certainly for the top UCs she needs good grades. It’s actually hard to get into a lower level UC with Cs (not impossible, though).

I then asked what seemed like a pertinent question: What career is she looking into?

She had no career in mind; she just wanted Bio because she felt she should be taking something hard and Sociology is too easy for everyone. I mentioned she should at least have a general idea of her strengths and various career choices so she’s not shooting in the dark. Studies have shown people have a happier life working in a field that melds with their strengths and aptitudes. I suggested if she was good in Sociology maybe her strength is in the social sciences. And indeed, she might think it’s easy for everyone but I can say from experience that a lot of students who might be strong in math or engineering, for example, often struggle in the social sciences. One cannot make a generalization that something easy for you is easy for everyone.

I suggested she Google some career tests online, which will help direct her to career choices and majors based on her personal interests.

She then said she had starred this term with another course for the Bio major and was getting a C. Including the three from last term that would be four Cs, which she thought was okay because she wanted to TAG UCSB and her counselor told her Cs were fine. I said hold up, Nellie.  Not necessarily true.

While a TAG (Transfer Admission Guarantee) is a guaranteed admission, a student must follow the TAG rules for that UC — as well as any rules set out within the intended major. 

The UCSB Bio major has the following rules:

  •  One year Biology courses
  • One year Chemistry courses
  • One year Calculus courses

^^^ All the above must have a cumulative 2.7 GPA, and no course can be below a C.

So, yes the C grade for individual courses is doable, but with four Cs she’s getting close to not hitting her 2.7 cumulative.  If that is the case the TAG will be declined.  (Keep in mind other UCs might have even more stringent grade requirements for selective majors.)

I also mentioned the time commitment. Biology has sequential courses, meaning you can’t take this or that chem without this or that biology first or this or that calc first. And you can’t take the second in any sequence before the first. Taking an extra two years is not going to break the bank, but it helps if one has the aptitude. 

I suggested if she was getting a C this term to try and get a W — the UCs won’t care about the W — but she said it was too late. I then suggested what she might consider a radical approach. Deliberately get a C-, D or an F so she can retake the course. (A student can retake any course that is C- or lower.) This sort of freaked her out, but I told her she was on a slippery slope if she was gung ho on the Bio major at UCSB.  Another suggestion was she stick it out this term, and then reassess. In the interim, if the Cs continue, her once high GPA in Sociology will take a major hit.

I told her to talk it over with her advisor but my inclination was that she stick with a major that she has an aptitude for and that she enjoys. I’m not sure she’s ready to do that, and she might turn it around, but I did wonder if a significant other or her friends group or her parents forced her to reconsider.  I have no idea but she suddenly wants nothing to do with Sociology — which is a great major.

As reference:  My one daughter majored in Sociology, the other in Media Studies/Communications and both are climbing successful career ladders. Why?  Because both Sociology and Communications are about people!

And what is every business concerned with at the end of the day? People!

Whether it’s Business to Business, or Business to Consumer, every single business on the face of the earth needs to know how to communicate effectively to reach its goals — whether it be marketing to the consumer, selling to individuals or companies, or public relations to brand itself to the public.

So I will be starting a series on majors and interesting career choices. Be on the lookout.

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Lindy is an independent UC admissions consultant, who works with both transfers and freshmen. She also has just completed her first novel, a supernatural thriller set in San Francisco.

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