Book Review: Panicked Student’s Guide

Book Review: Panicked Student’s Guide
  • Opening Intro -

    A visit to the registrar’s office to change a class is a piece of cake as is a trip to the bursar’s office to make payment for room and board.

    What strikes fear into many a student’s heart is choosing a college major.

    Get it wrong and you may be forced to extend your stay at college for an extra semester or two.

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Choosing a College Major.

Get it right and you can lay the foundation for career success and happiness.

College Majors

Choosing a college major isn’t that easy for some students, particularly for those who are not certain what they want to do with their lives. Such students may have desired to become an artist, a firefighter or a veterinarian when they were quite young, but as they finished elementary school and then middle school, their childhood desires may have faded or changed.

Dr. Laurence Shatkin, a career information professional, has written “Panicked Students Guide to Choosing a College Major,” in a bid to help students put matriculation angst behind them. Shatkin advises nervous students to first “calm down” and later leads them through brief synopses of more than 120 college majors. That figure is well above the typical number students will find at their respective colleges, but enables students to determine if the path they want is available at their school or elsewhere through transferring. Shatkin also penned, “10 Best College Majors for Your Personality,” a book we reviewed here earlier in 2011.

Major Synopsis

Each synopsis contains valuable information that can help students learn more about a college major. For example, the student interested in dentistry will find a brief summary of the field followed by information detailing specialization in the major, the typical sequence of college courses, a career snapshot including related jobs with average earnings, job growth and job openings, and the characteristics of related jobs. No more than 1 and 1/4 pages of information per college major, just enough to sate the student’s appetite.

Like similar books, Shatkin examines student personality types to help them choose a major. He cites the Holland study developed 60 years ago and still widely used today to assist students. Holland, who passed away in 2008, developed the Holland hexagon that describes personality types and work environments

Personality Types

Those types — realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional — are still useful for today, and can be applied to today’s career choices. Shatkin gives examples of each college major, but stresses that these are only examples and not definitives that students must follow. Clearly, there is some overlap and some students may discover they are not suited for a career that corresponds to their personality type.

Other factors Shatkin considers are the students’ skills and the courses they liked while in high school. Both areas can show students that their natural talents and secondary school coursework can offers clues on what they want to do with their lives. For example, the student who volunteered at a pet hospital and enjoyed biology may be interested in working with animals. She may have expressed interest in being a veterinarian while younger, then lost that desire, but her interest could be more toward research than medicine. In any case, this student might want to consider veterinary medicine especially if her personality traits line up.

Decision Time

Lastly, Shatkin advises students to make a tentative decision on a college major if they narrow their interests down to two, but are unable to hone in on just one. That way, students can take a class related to that major, one way to “sample” the coursework and get a better idea what direction they want to take.

See AlsoJist Publishing: Panicked Student’s Guide to Choosing a College Major

 
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