OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Career First, Classes After

What if we required students to explore different career options before they started looking at majors?

Photo of Alexina
9 13

Written by

We expect 17/18 year olds to make large decisions about college, the place they will live for the next few years and give thousands of dollars too. We also expect them to quickly choose what they are going to major in and thus what they will pursue after graduation. All in the span of around four years we expect our students to make important decisions.

Unfortunately, that's easier said than done, especially for low-income and first-generation students. Low-income first-gen students are usually off put by the idea of college because of financial reasons or family responsibilities. For other people, there is also a fear that they will study something that will end up not being something they need in life. For instance, what if they study creative writing and realize that they want to do computer science? They don't have the money to go back to school for another four years and pay more tuition or spend more time away from home. 

There are also other people I know who have changed their major multiple times, it has affected the amount of time they spend at school. There are other people who juggle work and school years after. 

So, what if, we offered a new system or program for students. When students come to college, they are required to spend a year or two interning at various careers. Every month or so students will have to try interning somewhere new. The students can begin by being sent to different jobs, or if they have an idea of what they have an interest in or passion in, then they can ask for specific work. After a year or two of experiencing different jobs and careers, students will then be able to decide what majors would actually suit the passions they have as well as the careers they want to pursue. 

To connect these students with internships, the Career Services and Alumni Associations of schools could partner to have a network of alumni or connections of people who are willing to provide an internship to really show students what the jobs or careers will be like. Part of the internships would also allow students to make money that will pay for their tuition and also to make money to support themselves a little while they are preparing to start taking classes or to save for tuition. 

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • An Individual
  • A classroom or academic assignment

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a senior getting ready to graduate next semester. When I first started college, I wanted to major in journalism and psychology, then I decided to study sociology and journalism. However, now as I get ready to graduate I realize I want to do public relations. It's too late for me to major in that and also my college doesn't offer that as a major. I have worked to make sure that my work experience gives me credibility and have strategically used my sociology and journalism experience as well.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

This challenge would allow people to find out what they want to do career wise in the future- something practical and also something they would love. Without having to freak out or worry in a span of four years, students can find our what they want to do first and then take classes. Students will find their career path first and then classes after.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Alexina!

I hope you had a good start to the year. The ideas phase of the Higher Education challenge is closing in 16 days. I hope you will post your idea there ( You just need to resubmit your idea (a simple copy and paste) and the community can help build on it.

View all comments