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Preparing for College Success

Family & Friends Matter

Preparing for College SuccessFamily & Friends Matter

Michael has continued on his path to become a physical therapist even though he has struggled in some of the basic science classes. In fact, he earned Ds in Chemistry I and in Anatomy and Physiology. He will need to retake the courses and earn at least Cs in them to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology, but even more importantly, he will need to greatly improve his GPA if he wants to be able to get into a graduate program.

Michael has noticed that his enthusiasm for his major classes has waned considerably, especially since he has taken courses such as history and literature. He loves reading and discussing texts and analyzing their historical contexts. When he expressess this to his family, they encourage him to “get that out of his system” and continue on his pathway to physical therapy. In fact, they often share with him news stories about salaries for people who graduate with liberal arts degrees versus science and mathematics degrees, and the data show that his physical therapy degree will be far more lucrative over his lifetime.

Even though Michael knows he needs to be able to land a good-paying job after he graduates, he doesn’t think he has what it takes to get through his science courses. Now he is unsure of how to bring this up to his family as they have made it clear what their expectations are. He doesn’t want to disappoint them—and perhaps they know better what he should do—but he just can’t find the motivation to retake the courses and work harder.

Let’s Think About It

Michael has several options. Think through the consequences of each one, and choose the best option or create your own option.

  • Michael continues on the path to become a physical therapist even if that means retaking classes to earn a higher GPA so he can apply for graduate school.
  • Michael talks with a career counselor and an academic advisor about his dilemma and finds a more viable pathway for himself.
  • Michael has an honest conversation with his family about how he is feeling and why he is not doing well in his science classes.

Let’s Talk About It

Michael’s situation is common among students who think they want to major in something because they like the idea of it, their family supports the pathway, and the choice can lead to a lucrative career. However, it is okay to change your mind or decide to study something that interests you even if you are not sure just yet how to connect it to a career. Here are some suggestions for communicating with others about the dilemma that Michael is facing:

  • “After some thought and experiences in my classes, I don’t feel as though my original major and career plan are a good fit for what I would like to study. I would like to explore other options.”
  • “I have been talking with a career counselor about other options for careers. I have found some interesting pathways that would be different from what I originally chose, but would still be viable ways to use what I am learning in college in a career that makes a difference for others.”
  • “I am struggling with what I want to study and do with my life. I have found some classes are more enjoyable for me—even when they are challenging—and I would like to talk to my professors, advisors, and the career services staff about what this may mean for my degree pathway.”

Whatever choice you would make in this situation, it is always best to communicate clearly your needs, your concerns, and even your uncertainties.

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