10 Commandments of College Admissions: The Series
By Jinsil Kim Senior Director at C2 Education UCLA Certified College Counselor
As I began to advise college bound students since 2008, spending over 10,000 hours working in this field, I have come to a conclusion that many students suffer academically, financially, and eventually even professionally by not following a few important rules; which I decided to name them here as the Top 10 Commandments of College Admissions. Let me explain to you how I discovered these truths and why they matter so much, especially if your aim is for admission to top colleges in the US. For this month, we shall discuss rule #1.
1. Thou shall take multiple aptitude tests before choosing your major
I am sure that many seniors in high schools and freshmen in colleges are tired of hearing, “What is going to be your major?” I was either the one who was asking or the one being asked that question during my school years as well. However, we must think about if this is a fair expectation of these teenagers, for them to somehow understand the content and the gravity of these undergraduate majors before taking the actual courses first. It would be like picking your first home with a big mortgage by looking from outside only, without actually getting in.
According the National Center for Education Statistics, “80% of students in college end up changing their major at least once, on average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career.”
Considering “ The overall average cost of tuition and required fees in the 2019-2020 school year was $21,035 per year for a public 4-year college, for an in-state student, and $32,769 for a private 4-year college student,” if the change of major occurred three times in a row, we are looking at the potential maximum financial loss of $ 31,552.50 for an in-state student and $ 49,153.50 for a private college student.
In order to avoid this critical mistake, the rule #1 for my students at C2 Education is for them to take at least three solid aptitude tests, preferably recommended by their school counselors and other college prep professionals like C2, and find the common ground amongst the three sets of test results.
In this way, the result of aptitude tests is either broad enough by creating several recommended career fields that would relate to the major that the student would choose, or the result could confirm the strength and aptitude of each student by finding the overlapping areas. The students can pick their college major with less risk and more confidence within these areas where they show natural talent and skill sets.
Critics may say that some students might want to explore the unknown fields and pick a major that is outside of the test results. To the critics, I would say that the choice is definitely up to the students, but at least, they can make an informed decision based on scientific data, and not on ignorance.
Finally, after you successfully enroll at your dream school, I recommend that you bring these results over and discuss more in-depth with a career guidance counselor and other upper classmen before declaring your major. If you are still not sure, take foundational courses first and earn your time to expose yourself to internship opportunities during the summer or even in school years.
And always, and I mean always, don’t be afraid to ask, “Why?” Ask the juniors and seniors who have already taken the major courses of your interest, and ask them why they picked this major, and if they went back to their freshmen year, they would have done the same. Their experiences and honest feedback may surprise you or may assure you. Ultimately you hold the power to choose, but like a wise man said once, ‘in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14b
Written by Jinsil V. Kim, M. Div