Choosing a Major

Choosing a major subject is often a stressful decision for young university students as it is can be difficult to know the career paths that different majors lead to. It can also be unclear which jobs will be available after graduation, especially in a slowing economy, making the choice of majors an important life decision. Watch and listen to the videos and do each task in this activity to receive professional American advice on how to declare a major subject. Then reflect on and compare the aspects of this advice which may be similar or dissimilar to the Hong Kong context.  




Task A1, Matching and Sentence Completion Exercise

Watch and listen to Part1 of Video 1 as many times as you like.

Video 1 - How to Select Your College Major

Video ©WiseChoiceEducation (

Task A2, Audio Script Gap Fill for 'How to Select Your College Major' (Cartoon)

Watch the cartoon (Video 1) one or two times.Then, only listen to it and while you listen, fill in the blanks below with the words you hear.

Task B1, Video 2, Part 1- Comprehension Questions

Watch and listen to Part 1 of the video as many times as you like.

Video 2 - Choosing A College Major to Prepare for the Hot Jobs of the Future, Part 1

Video ©Jordan Goldman (youtube.come)

Task B2, Video 2, Part 1- Speakers' Sentences Gap Fill Exercise

Watch and listen to Part 1 of the video2 as many times as you like.

Task B3, Video 2, Part 1, Matching Numbers with Events

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Task C1, Video 2, Part 2 - Comprehension Questions

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Video 2 - Choosing A College Major to Prepare for the Hot Jobs of the Future, Part 2

Video ©Jordan Goldman (youtube.come)

Task C2, Video 2, Part 2 - Speakers' Sentences Gap Fill Exercise

Watch and listen to Part 2 of video2 as many times as you like.

Task C3, Video 2, Part 2, Matching Numbers with Events

Watch and listen to Part 2 of Video 2 as many times as you like.

Task D1, Video 2, Part 3 - T/F & Multi-select Comprehension Questions

Watch and listen to Part 3 of the video as many times as you like.

Video 2 - Choosing A College Major to Prepare for the Hot Jobs of the Future, Part 3

Video ©Jordan Goldman (youtube.come)

Task D2, Video 2, Part 3 - Complete the speaker's sentences by clicking the words in the correct order.

If you have trouble, go back by clicking the 'undo' button, or click the 'hint' button.

Task D3, Video 2, Part 3, Matching Numbers with Events

Watch and listen to Part 3 of Video 2 as many times as you like.

Task E, Vocabulary Revision activities

Complete as many of the revision activities and games as you like:

Kevin Allocca: Why videos go viral

Student: So, I’m headed into my senior year and taking the SAT's and starting the
whole college application process, and I have no idea what I want to do,
like for the rest of my life.
I don't even know what I want to major in.
Librarian: I didn’t.
Rain guy: Me either.
Man: You know, son
half of all students entering college are undecided about their majors.
I was one of them, so don’t sweat it.
Student: So, what happened?
Man: Well, I didn’t like English or writing too much in high school, or science so
I crossed those kinds of majors off my list.
I was pretty good at Math.
Librarian: Not me.
Student: Me either.
Man: So, cross Math major off your list.
But I kept it on mine.
Then I asked my neighbor if I could shadow him at work one day.
He was a radio station advertising sales manager.
Sounds, uhm,
Oh, managing the radio station and the deals were,
but the selling wasn’t.
So I... made sure the college I went to had finance and accounting classes. That was
Math stuff I could see myself doing. I still didn't land on a major till the
end of my sophomore year.
Rain man: My family spent a lot of time outdoors. They always told
me I was to fascinated with the rain.
Student: So, you were a rain major.
Rain man: Earth Sciences.
But I only figured that out after talking with my guidance counselor and
going to the career center at my high school.
I also talked with my science teacher and my family and friends about my
strengths and interests.
They said ‘rain’, that let me to earth sciences and I took some journalism classes.
Student: Isn’t there just a place you can go to find out about all kinds of careers?
Library: Well, there are a number of books on careers,
and online resources too. Contacting your local librarian can help you sort through them all.
Student: I bet you always knew you wanted to be a librarian.
Librarian: Hardly.
I was a Pre-law major first. Then I changed to sports medicine.
And I finally settled on biology as my major.
Student: But you’re a librarian.
Librarian: Will Ferrell majored in sports broadcasting and now he’s a famous actor.
Man: Son, you just gotta realize that
your major is not going to define your life,
but choosing one that interests you will make your college experience much more
Librarian: So do your research. Go on informational interviews with people and
careers that interest you.
Rain man: Or just be an Earth Sciences major like me.
Student: Thanks for the suggestion, but
I'm not a rain person.
Man: Oh well, there you go. You started narrowing your list already.
Librarian: Narrowing is good,
but there's no pressure to decide right now. There’s a whole world of majors
and careers out there.
Rain man: And part of college is taking
new classes and discovering what your strengths and interests really are.
I really do love rain.

Part 1:
0.00Tanya Rivero: The national unemployment rate stands at ten percent, but the rate for young adults in their early twenties is even higher. And given the current economic
0:08 environment, high school grads are experiencing increased anxiety via about
0:12 choosing the right major that will lead them to the right career. So here to talk
0:16 about the hottest sectors and careers for the next generation and what majors
0:20 will best prepare you for those jobs is Jordan Goldman, founder and CEO of
0:25 Hey there Jordan. Great to see you again.
Jordan Goldman: Hey, Thanks a lot.
0:29 All right. Let's start with digital space. There,
0:31 there's gotta be a lot of jobs in this sector, right?
Jordan Goldman: Yes so the digital space is
0:35 booming there, that's kind of something that everyone's recognizing.
0:38 They're more text messages sent these days
0:41 each day than there is in the entire population of the world.
0:44 One in eight couples that marry met online.
0:48 My Space and Facebook, Facebook now has more than three hundred and fifty
0:51 million members. Ninety percent of all of Iceland now has a Facebook profile.
0:55 So the digital space is developing really, really rapidly and when you look
0:59 at personal computers, it wasn't so long ago that they were introduced.
1:03 The growth that we've seen is really phenomenal and the growth that we're
1:05 looking forward to over the next ten or so years is equally phenomenal.
Tanya Rivero: So what
1:09 are some specific types of jobs that people should look into in the
1:13 digital world?
Jordan Goldman: I mean everything from mobile application developer
1:16 to casual games simulator, to data miner and social media specialist.
1:22 You can look at how the digital spaces impacted every single part of our
1:25 lives
1:25 and try to anticipate a job that’s going to move to the forefront . So, when
1:29 you're looking into what college major may be best for you, do something like
1:33 Computer Science. Do something like
1:36 Social Media as that starts to become a noted college major, a path that you can
1:39 actually study in school.
Tanya Rivero: Uh, almost every field these days has some segment of it
1:44 and that is related to computers right? So, you could
1:48 actually start out with whatever your interest is, say its Arts, and then look
1:51 at how that
1:52 works out in the computer world, right?
1:54 Jordan Goldman: And this is important because they're a lot of people at home, a lot of kids who love the
1:58 digital space and love social media,
2:00 but they don't imagine actual career coming out of that. But over the next ten years,
2:03 there’s gonna be an explosion of careers directly related to this.
2:07 So don't just look at it as a hobby when you're in school.
2:09 Try to gain skills that you can see being put to use in any full-time career in
2:14 this space.
2:14 Because it’s something that a lot of kids really love and are good at.
2:18Tanya Rivero: Absolutely. That's great advice. Thanks Jordan.
2:21 So, that, sounds like that's pretty much the biggest field. We’re going to move down to number two,
2:24 which is also growing in the field of advanced medical research. Tell us
2:28 about the careers that are good there.
2:30 So in advanced medical research, we’re right now, we have a lot where people are
2:35 looking for drug and medicine that once you’re down with the sickness this is
2:39 going to help you with it.
2:40 But that's going to move away to, to more preventative medicine, where we're going to
2:43 be looking at your genes in your DNA. We’re gonna look at what sort of illnesses
2:46 you are predisposed to
2:48 and we’re going to be developing technologies and medicines that
2:51 will prevent you from ever getting sick in the first place.
2:53 So, so kind of a more personalized version of health care and personalized
2:57 biology.
2:58 So, a lot of people are going to be majoring in things like Biology and Chemistry the
3:02 traditional sciences,
3:03 but there's going to be careers like gene splicer and bio-informatician.
3:08 Uhm…
3:10 What is that exactly?
Jordan Goldman: That's kind of a mixture of
3:13 Mathematics and predictive modeling and
3:16 Biology and then, kind of, Cellular Chemistry. So people are going to be
3:20 using this to analyze your genes and help figure out personalized medicine
3:25 regimens that are going to help,
3:27 help each individual person.
Tanya Rivero: Sounds like it, it sounds very interesting but also a
3:32 little uhm,
3:34 specific, do you know what I mean like, you’ve really got to, you’ve really go to
3:36 choose your classes wisely if those are the careers you want to go
3:38 into.
3:39 Jordan Goldman: Yeah, any of the medical sciences, the traditional paths,
3:43 are just going to lead to
3:45 these new careers in these new applications for medicine and technology.
3:49 Tanya Rivero: How much can you trust on the school, that it, wherever you happen to be studying, how
3:53 much can you trust the guidance there that you know your, your uh teachers or
3:57 your professors will tell you, ‘look this is really what you need to look into’ or
4:00 do you have to do that
4:01 leg work yourself?
4:04 Jordan Goldman: I mean, to some aspect you can go to the counselors and you can go to the people who are the
4:07 Heads of departments and ask them, ‘Hey, what are the emerging fields that I can use this
4:10 for?
4:11 But you’re still in some cases using text books that are five and ten years old, so
4:15 you want to kind of keep abreast of what the newest advances in medical
4:18 technology are
4:19 and using internships over the summer is a great opportunity to
4:23 take what you're learning but put it in a real world context where
4:26 the newest technologies actually at work.

Part 2:
Tanya Rivero: Absolutely. All right let's move on to
4:29 the next hot career on your list, which is
4:32 a little perplexing to some people
4:34 the automotive industry you say, Uh, you know we keep hearing how it's on the
4:38 brink of collapse but now you're saying it could be one of the hottest careers
4:40 of the future.
Jordan Goldman:yeah, so right now the automotive industry isn't doing that well but if you
4:45 look at the movement in the future towards more energy efficient vehicles
4:48 and hybrid vehicles
4:50 that's gonna call for a complete restructuring of the entire model we
4:53 know of right now for the automobile industry. And President Obama is backing
4:56 this and pushing a line of legislation,
4:58 and there's going to be much tougher uh rules and guidelines for car production
5:03 in the future.
5:03 So people who do look into, kind of
5:07 renewable urban planning acts as a major, and looking into energy efficiency as
5:12 that starts to become a major in the sciences, uh
5:15 will increasingly have a career
5:17 helping put these new models of cars together and helping put together new
5:21 infrastructure on a nationwide basis to accommodate these new vehicles.
5:25 So these sound like, you know, pretty, a lot of training is needed, all right
5:28 these jobs that you need graduate degrees for, I mean, what would you recommend?
Jordan Goldman: Yeah, a lot
5:33 of these do take some level of specialization.
5:36 But, a lot of the industry's without uh engineering and mechanics can be applied
5:41 specifically towards automotive
5:42 and a lot more green specializations and especially around energy
5:46 conservation and energy efficiency.
5:48 Tanya Rivero: So, you don't necessarily have to, you can be an Engineering major let's
5:52 say and get one of these jobs in the uh... automotive industry…
5:56 Jordan Goldman: Yeah, I think the great thing about all these are you can you can still major in fairly
6:00 traditional fields, but there are new applications
6:03 keeping in mind kind of new political momentum and emerging technologies…
6:06 they're going to let you take these degrees
6:08 but there’s going to be a whole lot more jobs
6:10 available to you as opposed to just kind of the traditional routes.
Tanya Rivero: Right.
6:15 Yeah, we keep hearing how engineers are in hot demand not just in the automotive industry but in general,
6:18 so that's always a good uh career, or a good major if you can if you can handle, if you can handle
6:22 it. It’s tough.
6:23 All right next on your list of careers in the future: finance. Well I thought
6:26 that Wall Street almost collapsed last year,
6:29 and you're telling me that we should go into finance?
Jordan Goldman: Yes so, so again, just like with the automobile industry, finance is going through a bit of a tough time
6:36 right now,
6:36 but all the models suggest that this is going to rebound and it’s going to rebound in
6:39 a particularly strong way.
6:41 In the future,
6:42 a lot of financial companies are going to be looking at a lot more real time data
6:46 and a lot more predictive modeling to figure out
6:49 kinda how past performance and future performance interrelate.
6:52 So using, using again the technology that's available, the financial
6:56 industry is going to continually transform.
6:58 And it's going to continue to be a hot and profitable sector.
7:01 Tanya Rivero: Absolutely. And then people are always drawn to it. All right now, green collar jobs. We talked a
7:05 little bit about this with the automotive industry, greening becoming
7:07 more and more popular. But it’s obviously not just the automotive industry. It's the
7:11 way we live
7:12 I mean it extends to all the parts of our lives.
Jordan Goldman: Yeah. President Obama said that under
7:16 his new legislation there’s going to be five million new jobs that are going to
7:20 created in the green sector.
7:21 So this is everything from figuring out how wind and solar energy can be more
7:25 directly applied
7:26 to reforming the entire electrical grill throughout the United States.
7:30 So there’s going to be a substantial number of new initiatives
7:32 that are going to be taking green skills and urban planning skills
7:37 and changing almost every piece of the structure of our society as we move away
7:40 from traditional fuel sources.
Tanya Rivero: And so Jordan, what are some good majors if you
7:43 want to become a green warrior?
7:45 This, this could be anything from Urban Planning to Chemistry to again Energy
7:49 Management and Energy Systems.

Part 3:
Tanya Rivero: In this segment we're going to ask Jordan to
7:53 answer some viewer questions from our ‘Good Money Mail Bag’.
7:55 All right Jordan, are you ready?
Jordan Goldman:Yes. Sounds good.
First question comes from Jesse of New
8:00 York New York. And he says can your list
8:04 prospective major
8:05 hurt or help you when first applying to college. That’s a good question. They always want to
8:09 know on those college applications what you plan on majoring in
8:13 and uh, who knows when you're a high school senior right?
Jordan Goldman: yeah this is really
8:16 interesting. UNIGO recently teamed up with the Wall Street Journal and we did
8:19 a webcast where we asked top admissions officers from colleges all over the
8:22 country
8:23 a bunch of questions. And this was one of them. We said, ‘does it matter
8:26 what you list as your prospective major or
8:29 did the schools not look at all?’ And most of the colleges actually said they expect
8:33 typically you declare your major in your second year of college.
8:36 They don't expect that you know what you want to do when you come in. They expect
8:38 that you’ll come and you'll take a large variety of classes
8:41 and you'll figure out what your passion is as you go along.
8:44 And as you learn more about the careers that these majors help you fit into, uhm…
8:48 Tanya Rivero: So why do they bother, why do they bother having that question then on the
8:51 application?
8:51 I think they want to get an early inkling of where you think you might be
8:55 heading. But more than fifty percent of people put down ‘undecided’.
8:59 And, and the schools themselves say that this does not play into the admissions process
9:02 per se, it's just
9:03 they want a better idea of what you're thinking. What about you Jordan? What did you put down as
9:06 a high school senior?
9:08 Uh... I was an English major, so having nothing to do with running an online
9:11 company.
Tanya Rivero: And you stuck with it?
9:12 I stuck with it. I went to grad school in English and you never know where things will take you.
9:15 That’s right. There you go. And we’ll talk about flexible majors later, but…. All right. This
9:20 next question comes from Greg and he's tweeting in from Boston, Massachusetts.
9:24 asking
9:25 ‘what's the most versatile college major’? Well
9:28 we just discussed English. That's a pretty versatile one
9:31 right there.
Jordan Goldman: Yeah, well we actually do hear that English is one of the most popular majors and it tends
9:35 to be the one that if you if you look at the direct career track,
9:38 there’s the widest variety of careers that people that were English majors
9:41 eventually go into.
9:43 Uhm, as for the highest paid major, Engineering tends to make the cut there…
9:47 that Engineering salaries starting out are about eighty five thousand dollars
9:51 whereas if you’re an English major
9:52 salary tends to start at about thirty five thousand dollars.
Tanya Rivero: History is another
9:55 versatile one.
9:56 I know a lot of History majors who've just ended up with jobs on every
9:59 end of the spectrum.
Jordan Goldman: Yeah, it's just the skill sets you learn are broad enough that
10:03 they can be applied to all these different disciplines.
Tanya Rivero: And what is that
10:06 skill set exactly? Is it is it learning to analyze the text? What is it about
10:10 English let's say that that allows you to go into so many fields?
Jordan Goldman: I think I think….
10:13 It’s just creative and analytical thinking and solving problems in a broad way. It's
10:17 not a particular skill like, like knowing how to fill out a spreadsheet
10:20 but it's a way of approaching a challenge and coming up with a creative
10:24 solution.
10:25 Tanya Rivero:All right. Sounds good. We have another tweet. We have lots of tweets today. From Sam of Lancaster,
10:28 Pennsylvania.
10:30 ‘How can you make your resume stand out’?
10:33 Jordan Goldman: So here I think a lot of people want to put together one generic resume and
10:37 throw that around as much as they can.
10:39 It's really, really important. Put yourself in the position of an employer.
10:42 This employer gets tons of resumes. They want to see something that shows skill
10:45 sets directly related to the challenges that they're facing
10:49 and that they're hiring an employee to fill a role
10:51 to solve the challenges.
10:53 So, try to do some research on the company you’re applying to and try to cater your resume
10:57 to each individual job,
10:59 to really show the person who's the hiring manager, ‘my skills are directly
11:02 relevant to the position you're trying to fill
11:04 and I’m really going to add something to your organization.’
Tanya Rivero: So you really do, you
11:08 really advise not just having sort of the template ‘this is my resume’. You've
11:11 got to have a couple of versions depending on the specific job. JG: Yeah, have a template
11:15 but be open and willing to customize that job by job.
11:18 Uh, another thing is
11:19 try any
11:21 way in you have to that job? Do you know someone? Do you know someone who knows
11:24 someone?
11:25 When there's a giant stack of resumes
11:27 If someone says, ‘hey by the way such as such is applying take an extra second
11:31 odds are they’re actually going to take couple extra minutes. Um, or just
11:34 put your application kind of heads and tails above the rest because of that personal
11:38 recommendation.
11:38 Tanya Rivero: Do you, do you recommend someone listing an objective on their resume ‘cause
11:42 I know the jury's kind of out on that one.
Jordan Goldman: It could go either way because you don't
11:46 necessarily know the objective of the employer. You could say I'm looking to
11:49 do this.
11:51 And the person who is the hiring manager may say well then that's not exactly a fit.
11:55 So it can be a little risky.
Tanya Rivero: All tight, sometimes it pays to
11:58 leave some things open.
12:00 Don’t get too specific.
12:02 All right. Ellen writes in from Somerville, Massachusetts asking ‘What are some of
12:05 the best ways to impress on a job interview?’ obviously a lot of people
12:09 today are worried about jobs understandably, so we're going to give
12:11 them the best advice we can. What do you think Jordan?
12:13 I think um the big thing here is, is to do as much research on the company in
12:18 advance.
12:18 And to come into a job interview both knowing about the company knowing the
12:21 challenges its faced, and knowing its successes and also having one or two
12:25 original ideas for ways that you could personally
12:28 help this company, how your experiences in the past could be directly applicable.
12:31 Because if you're hiring manager and someone comes in and they know about your
12:34 organization, they're passionate about it
12:36 and they have original ideas,
12:38 That, that shows you this is someone who, when you're in my organization is really
12:41 going to add something. You're not just going to sit at the back
12:43 and only do what you're told.
12:45 You're passionate, you’re articulate and you're going to go someplace.
Tanya Rivero: So you
12:48 Really, really have to do that research. You really can’t get away with just
12:51 winging it.
12:53Jordan Goldman: I mean, it's a lot better if you do come prepared and if you can figure out a
12:57 way to show the employer how you think.
12:59 That the way that you think, the way you tackle problems
13:01 is different and unique and a real value add.
13:04 To just going in and hoping that you’re going to answer the questions they ask you and
13:08 you're going to wing it,
13:09the person who is prepared, is going to stand out a whole lot more and be a lot more
13:13 likely to get that position.
Tanya Rivero: So you really think employers today are looking for that original
13:16 thinker, that, that
13:17 employee that’s going to think outside the box.
Jordan Goldman: Especially in a tough economy, there are
13:21 fewer employees to do sometimes a larger number of tasks, so they need
13:25 each employee to be the best possible kind of resource for that
13:28 spot.
Tanya Rivero: All right, Jordan, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our viewer questions.
Jordan Goldman: Thanks a lot.
13:33 And your valuable advice. If you have any questions for Jordan or any other of our experts
13:37 regarding your finances, go to our website….
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