Parents and Families

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Upon being accepted to the University of Michigan, one of the first questions prospective students are asked is, "What are you going to major in?" The pressure is on instantly to make, what seems to be, that all-important decision.

While a specific degree is a necessary credential for entering certain fields, that isn’t always the case. In many areas of interest, a student can explore a variety of courses and areas prior to deciding on a particular field of study. It might even be a relief to know that it is common for students to change majors several times before making their final decisions.

Most employers (73%) connected to the U-M Career Center expressed an interest in talking with prospective job candidates from all majors. Employers are looking for students with specific skill sets to bring to their organizations.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual Job Outlook, the top skills employers seek are:

  • Ability to work on a team
  • Leadership
  • Written communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Quantitative skills
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Initiative
  • Technical skills
  • Detail orientation

Certainly some of these skills may be developed through academic interests. Students may also develop these skills and qualities through research opportunities, involvement in campus student organizations, part-time jobs, or summer jobs and internships.

It is important that students know their areas of strength and can provide strong examples of how and when they have used these skills in other settings. Telling an interesting story about how they developed their skills will be very compelling to employers.  The Career Center welcomes the opportunity to do a skills analysis with your student; and by connecting with a Career Center coach, students can talk about their skills and understand how to integrate them into a professional role.

So although your impulse may be to ask a student, "What are you going to major in?" you may want to ask instead about applicable skills and interests for U-M and beyond.


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