Unfortunately, many high school students do not begin giving serious consideration to a career or college major until they become high school seniors. However, by that time, 3 years of high school is already behind them–3 years in which they could have been performing internships, attending pre-college programs, and exploring a variety of gifts and talents. 3 years that they could have been visiting colleges, talking to teachers and college professors, and identifying the best programs in the country to pursue their educational or career interests. It should be clear that developing a strong college-bound plan requires that you give serious consideration to careers and college majors long prior to beginning your final year of high school. This does not mean that you must decide on a career. In fact, not being able to decide on a career is in itself a decision. Similarly, not knowing what course of study you would like to pursue in college is also a decision. For example, not knowing what you want to do in the future suggests that you should explore a broad range of subjects and activities to discover your passions. However, if you know that you are passionate about art, music, building robots, or even playing video games, you can begin exploring the types of college majors and careers associated with these areas of interest.

You can begin giving yourself a huge competitive advantage as a future college or scholarship applicant by developing a history of involvement in activities, classes, and summer programs related to your passionate areas of interest. For example, one of our most academically accomplished students was amazed to discover that during the selection process for the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, a program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County created to support students interested in pursuing MDs (medical degrees) and PhDs (doctoral degrees), many of the other high school students had been conducting medical research and had internships during each summer of high school. Another student who was interviewing for the Posse Foundation scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship at some of the country’s top colleges, discovered that many of the students had created their own nonprofits and created their own organizations to engage in community service and demonstrate leadership.


  • Identify the types of college majors and careers aligned with your current gifts, talents, or passions; or your educational or career interest.
  • Identify the best colleges for pursuing your college major.
  • Identify the long-term earnings potential of college majors and future job prospects for associated careers.

Estimated time to complete: 1 hour. 

Guiding Questions

  • What careers or college majors are associated with my gifts, talents, or aspirations?
  • How do I identify the best colleges for my college major?
  • What are the future job prospects associated with my career choice and what is the long-term earnings potential?