He was the poster child for college slackers: "Bluto" Blutarsky, the partying prankster played by John Belushi in the hit movie "Animal House."
"Seven years of college down the drain." Bluto said it.
These days, no parents paying hefty tuition bills want to hear something like that from their college student.
But here's the reality: According to studies, the vast majority of college freshmen or current high school seniors applying to schools right now have no idea what major they want to pursue or what their career path might be. They spend way more time working on getting into college and not enough time on what they'll do when they get there.
It's perfectly understandable, too.
But that lack of focus can lead to students picking the wrong schools, taking the wrong classes, dropping out and squandering tens of thousands of dollars that mom and dad had painstakingly saved.
But parents and students, take heart. Plenty of Web-based tools and services can help students match their career interests with potential academic majors. Some of those resources go one step further -- matching the colleges that offer those fields.
One of the most comprehensive resources is http://www.MyMajors.com. It's a free tool created by a retired professor from the University of Nevada-Reno and is designed and marketed by Townsend Communications of Kansas City, Mo., publisher of the College Outlook magazine that is distributed to high school juniors and seniors nationwide.
The website allows students, parents and school counselors to research a database of more than 1,600 college majors. There's also a vast library of detailed career information all aimed at helping students match their interests with schools that offer those fields of study.
MyMajors is not a personality test. Rather, it measures a student's academic achievements and interests to come up with recommendations for majors and schools. The site is easy to navigate, and users, after registering, answer a series of questions that only takes a few minutes to complete.
Kathleen Shea Smith is an associate director and academic adviser at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. She believes the most important decision for any college student is selecting the right major.
"It is a critical aspect of their identity," she said.
She encourages Florida State freshmen to complete the MyMajors assessment as part of the process of declaring their major by the end of their first year.
"In my experience, the results often confirm original considerations," Smith said. But MyMajors often "introduces new options which encourage the student to explore areas that they may never have considered or even knew existed."
MyMajors isn't the only Web resource that helps students zero in on college majors. Programs on the websites of the College Board and the Princeton Review are worth checking out as well.
These online services provide useful information, but students shouldn't choose a school solely because it offers a major they find interesting.
Assessment tests aren't the gospel either. Sometimes, all it takes to find life's calling is a friendly nudge from a professor to take a class, or a challenge from a family member or friend who sees a special talent.
(Questions, comments, column ideas? Send an e-mail to srosen(AT)kcstar.com or write to him at The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.)
Web resources can help students zero in on college majors
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