Q: I’m still in high school but I am wondering what I should major in. I would like to be a therapist or researcher or something along those lines I'm not sure which one. I really like helping people and definitely want to pursue this in college. But I don't know which job I specifically want to do. My question is what route should I take in college, like which majors should I go after?
A: While it’s terrific that you seem to have found a career focus, it is way too early even to think about a major. That fact that you want to work in a helping profession is highly commendable. And you can do this in more ways than you currently may think possible. Therapists come in a wide variety: psychologists, psychotherapists, physical or occupational therapists. Additionally, there are art, music, and play therapists. Activities often thought of as recreational are therapeutic in a clinical setting, such as a pediatric playroom in a hospital.
To become a licensed therapist in most fields will require a graduate degree, a master’s at the minimum. This means there can be a good deal of flexibility in the choice of your undergraduate major. When you are actually in college, you will need to consult an academic advisor as to which courses will serve best to reinforce and expand your interests. Probably the natural and social sciences – biology, chemistry, psychology, sociology – will be your top choices. In addition, you ought to seek out volunteer experiences and research opportunities that will give you a preview of actual day-to-day life as a therapist.
At this point, you ought to be doing two things:
1. researching which colleges offer programs in natural and social sciences and can provide internships and other opportunities in the field you wish to pursue; and
2. pursuing your studies seriously so that you academic record will gain you entry to a strong undergraduate program