My College:
Career Prep

When Plans Change Senior Year

Sydnei Kaplan

Senior year of college can be such an exciting time. Our kids are poised to complete this phase of education and preparing to embark on the next part of the journey. It can be filled with emotion — wanting to absorb everything and treasure this time and the friendships made.

Often seniors are solidly on their paths to that next stage. But sometimes, their interests or plans shift along the way. This happened to my senior during his junior year, and it was a little unsettling…for him, and for us as parents.

It's Common for Paths to Change

It started with him questioning what he wanted to do with his psychology major. At the same time, he was discovering that his love of working out and helping others with their fitness goals could potentially let him do something with personal training.

It was unknown territory for a college kid who'd always thought he should follow the plan to graduate with his originally chosen major.

This happens more often than you might think, but can really present a struggle for students. Some may feel lost and stuck at a juncture like this, especially if they're not seeking guidance from an advisor or someone else they trust. Luckily, our son trusted us enough to share how he was feeling, and we encouraged him to really think about what he was interested in and passionate about, and assured him that there was no one single right answer or path.

Something else that helped me, and helped me help him, was remembering the wonderful twists and turns of my own journey. I received my MBA and worked in marketing for 10+ years, then put myself full force into being a stay-at-home mom and CEO of our household. Throughout my children’s school years, I volunteered in their schools on a regular basis. This led me to pursue and accept a position as a substitute teacher, working regularly in our local preschool.

The adventure has continued as I rediscovered my passion for writing with the launch of a blog in 2019, a fresh and fulfilling freelance writing career, and now the release of my first children’s book.

The point: We never have to lock ourselves into following one path, or being one thing!

For our son, this might mean that he'll graduate with a psychology degree and then become certified in personal training. Then he can decide if he wants to continue on to graduate school to become a therapist, if he wants to pursue a career in personal training, or maybe create an opportunity that combines them both.

A Time to Listen

For your college student who finds themselves questioning their major or path, this is the time to pause and take a deep breath (both of you). Yes, a shift might mean that they will need to take a class or two over the summer, or possibly even add on an extra semester. What’s most important, though, is to support them as they’re figuring all this out. It’s scary to be close to “adult life” and not feel sure about what one wants to do.

As parents, we can actively listen, reassure, and offer guidance to help our kids figure out the next right step. They don’t have to figure out what they want to do forever — just for the next part of their journey.

Sydnei Kaplan left a marketing career when her first child was born and never looked back. She and her husband are now parents to two "college and beyond” aged children. Currently Sydnei works part-time in a preschool and rediscovered her passion for writing through her blog, Mom in the Moment. Sydnei is honored to contribute to several other sites, including Her View From Home, Love What Matters, and Grown and Flown. You can find her first children’s book, The Heaven Phone, on Amazon. Find her on Facebook and Instagram, too.
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