The ‘super combo’


College studies may open – or close – doors to future career choices

CUMBERLAND – Patrons of bricks-and-mortar cinemas and their omnipresent concession stands are familiar with the “super combo” – a promotional device that features a large popcorn and beverage.  This pairing obviously capitalizes on the complementary relationship that occurs when soda quenches the thirst produced by salty popcorn. 

I strongly encourage high school students to incorporate academic super combos into their college curricular planning.  While most high school students (and their families) understand the wisdom of applying to more than one college or university, they all-too-often adopt a singular focus with respect to academic majors and career options.

Multidimensional curricular programs – two majors, a major and a minor, even a major and two minors or two majors and a minor – are quite feasible combinations at most institutions and, with careful planning, do not necessarily require additional time or tuition to complete.  When purposefully constructed to accommodate student interests, innate talents and career exploration objectives, such strategies can confer enormous vocational flexibility as graduation approaches and can facilitate potential career changes in the future, as well.

For example, one of my clients was a high school sophomore whose intrigue with TV psychodramas and mystery novels prompted her to gravitate toward studying psychology in college.  At the same time, chemistry was her favorite high school course, no doubt owing to her strong spatial aptitude.  I recommended that she satisfy both preferences with a double major in psychology and chemistry, along with a minor in criminal justice, for good measure.  She pursued this course of study at a venerable New England university and completed the entire program in four years with no added cost.

Most important, this youngster’s seemingly incongruous academic super combo was quite deliberately designed to support an exciting array of career possibilities – all of which spoke to her several passions:  forensic scientist, clinical psychologist, law enforcement criminologist and pharmaceutical researcher specializing in mind-altering drugs.  As a college student, she secured a summer internship at a state crime laboratory; for the past decade, she has enjoyed frequent promotions as an analytical chemist at a manufacturer of technical products.  What’s more, the custom-tailored blueprint that she pursued in college now makes possible her transition to other related career paths if she so chooses – a most unlikely progression had she graduated with a psychology degree as her sole academic credential.

High school students should undertake such strategic college and career planning during their sophomore and junior years, well before they begin their search for best-fit schools, in order to ensure a match between their personal academic and vocational goals and the curricular opportunities available on specific college campuses – a combination that is truly super.

Marc Lipps (305-6705 or is principal at Marc Lipps Associates, Inc., an independent educational consulting firm specializing in college and career planning.

This is one of a series of occasional business profiles, some of which advertise with The Jewish Voice.