What Should I Major In? How to Choose a Major in 9 Steps

Consider taking a college major assessment test, which helps you decide how to choose a major by asking several dozen questions. For tests to see what major is right for you, check out the “What should I major in quiz” by Loyola or the “college major personality quiz” from ThoughtCo.

matching set of resume and cover letter

Identify Interests, Values, Passions, and Abilities

The very first step in choosing a major that is right for you is to discern for yourself the areas of study that are important to you. These can be divided into several general categories, which we’ll talk about one-by-one:

Pick a major based on abilities

Abilities are what you are able to do, generally speaking. Understanding what areas you have skills in and which areas could use work is a great way to start the elimination process when choosing a university major.

Pick a major based on values

Pick a major based on interests

Pick a major based on passions

At first glance, your passions seem just like interest areas, only stronger. But this is quite an understatement. Passions are areas of deep interest, sure, but they also incorporate your values and abilities into something that becomes a burning, lifelong desire.

Following your passions, whatever they may be, is one of the best ways to choose a major, and it generally has the least second-guessing later on. However, as with your interests, passions may be defined later on, even after university is over.

Your close friends – who knows you better? Get their input by telling them what you believe your interests, passions, abilities, and values are. They might agree, or they might think you’re crazy. But they might just help you decide what to major in.

Consider the Future

Will you still enjoy it years from now?

You have interests and passions and these ideas that you value. But what’s to stop you from switching positions or changing your mind? Who’s to say how you’ll feel even 10 years from now – not to mention 20 or 30 years from now?

Is it employable?

In other words, will you be able to easily and readily find employment in a related field after you earn the degree? Avoid the possible discouragement from employment rejection later on by considering a broader field of study rather than something super niche.

Will it be around later in life?

Will it pay?

Nobody wants to struggle later in life (or at all), financially. And if you’ll want to have a family later, it is important to keep compensation in mind. Also – you’re gonna have to pay back all these student loans!

6 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Major

1. What Are Your Biggest Priorities?

Some students pursue certain majors primarily based upon salary potential and job demand. Alternatively, other students choose majors they’re passionate about and/or highly skilled in. Before you choose a major, think about which of these three factors — economic advantage, interest level, and ability — are most important and relevant to you and your future goals.

2. What Are You Interested In?

This popular assessment uses your habits and attitudes to generate one of 16 personality types, written as a combination of four letters. Examples include ISFJ (introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging) and ENTP (extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving).

3. What Are You Good At?

Understanding your natural skills and talents can go a long way in helping you make an informed and confident decision when choosing a major. It may be your parents’ dream for you to be an artist, but what if you skew more toward business or the sciences? Just because someone else has a degree path in mind doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

One way of determining which academic fields best suit you is to take a close look at your class grades in high school, as well as your ACT or SAT scores. Doing this can highlight your strengths in specific academic areas.

4. What Are the Highest-Paying Fields?

When considering which major to pursue, determine how important salary and salary potential weigh into your decision-making process. If you’re motivated by high earnings, pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field may appeal to you.

That said, some students care more about the importance of their work than the salary offered; they don’t want a job just for the money. Non-STEM degrees that students are often passionate about relate to human services, education, and visual/performing arts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a regularly updated list of positions offering the highest wages. Psychiatrists rank high on this list, as do oral and maxillofacial surgeons, obstetricians and gynecologists, and general internal medicine physicians.

If you want a job outside of medicine and healthcare, other positions with high salaries include chief executive, airline pilot, computer and information systems manager, architectural and engineering manager, and marketing manager.

5. How Rigorous Will the Coursework Be?

Some majors may feel harder than others based on factors like typical homework load, course expectations, and frequency of exams. Your core classes (i.e., classes specifically related to your major) will make up a significant portion of your college course load. So, before you declare a major, make sure you understand how rigorous your weekly workload will be.

Indiana University Bloomington’s National Survey of Student Engagement, carried out in 2016, determined the most difficult majors based on the average time students spent per week preparing for classes. The hardest majors included architecture, chemical engineering, and aeronautical engineering.

6. What Does Your Academic Advisor Say?

Checking in with your academic advisor is one of the most important steps you can take when deciding on a major. They’ve had similar conversations with hundreds of students and can provide insightful wisdom into picking a major. Your advisor may even propose a major you hadn’t previously considered that meets your academic and career goals.

Have a Question About College?

Some college majors are more popular than others due to their high earning potential and strong job prospects. Learn what the top 10 majors are in this guide. Choosing a college major is a decision many students agonize over. Here, recent grads offer new students advice they wish they’d heard earlier. Many students flock to just a handful of popular majors, leading to crowded fields. A well-chosen major and minor can give you a competitive edge for jobs.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers harness chemical reactions to produce things people want. It’s a very broad field that overlaps considerably with other branches of engineering , chemistry , and biochemistry . Chemical engineering majors learn how to reorganize the structure of molecules and how to design chemical processes through which chemicals, petroleum, foods, and pharmaceuticals can undergo. You’ll learn how to build and operate industrial plants where raw materials are chemically altered. You’ll learn how to keep the environment safe from potential pollution and hazardous waste, too. Paper mills, manufacturers of fertilizers, pharmaceutical companies, plastics makers, and tons of other kinds of firms will be looking for your expertise.

From microscopic organisms to cloning procedures, biology encompasses pretty much the whole world. Biology majors can study human, plants, animals, and the environments in which they live, and studies are conducted at the cellular level, the ecosystem level, or anywhere in between. You might find yourself looking to uncover secrets and for ways to solve problems, such as finding a cure for a disease. Biology majors may find themselves in med school, or in one of many growing fields such as genetics and biotechnology or working as a veterinarian, optometrist, ecologist, or environmentalist.

Looking for strategic college advice?

About Rob Franek

Rob Franek, Editor-in-Chief at The Princeton Review, is the company’s primary authority on higher education. Over his 26-year career, he has served as a college admissions administrator, test prep teacher, author, publisher, and lecturer. Read more and follow Rob on Twitter: @RobFranek.

Sources:

https://zety.com/blog/how-to-choose-a-major
https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/choosing-a-major/
https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/top-ten-college-majors

SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Next, write outlines for the prompts you came up with (or, if you came up with a lot of prompts, choose the most likely to outline). These outlines don’t need to contain much information, just your thesis and a few key points for each body paragraph. Even if your teacher chooses a different prompt than what you came up with, just thinking about what to write about and how you’ll organize your thoughts will help you be more prepared for the test.

study effectively

SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

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Do you have a big exam coming up, but you’re not sure how to prepare for it? Are you looking to improve your grades or keep them strong but don’t know the best way to do this? We’re here to help! In this guide, we’ve compiled the 17 best tips for how to study for a test. No matter what grade you’re in or what subject you’re studying, these tips will give you ways to study faster and more effectively. If you’re tired of studying for hours only to forget everything when it comes time to take a test, follow these tips so you can be well prepared for any exam you take.

How to Study for a Test: General Tips

#1: Stick to a Study Schedule

If you’re having trouble studying regularly, creating a study schedule can be a huge help. Doing something regularly helps your mind get used to it. If you set aside a time to regularly study and stick to it, it’ll eventually become a habit that’s (usually) easy to stick to. Getting into a fixed habit of studying will help you improve your concentration and mental stamina over time. And, just like any other training, your ability to study will improve with time and effort.

Take an honest look at your schedule (this includes schoolwork, extracurriculars, work, etc.) and decide how often you can study without making your schedule too packed. Aim for at least an hour twice a week. Next, decide when you want to study, such as Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 7-8pm, and stick to your schedule. In the beginning, you may need to tweak your schedule, but you’ll eventually find the study rhythm that works best for you. The important thing is that you commit to it and study during the same times each week as often as possible.

#2: Start Studying Early and Study for Shorter Periods

Some people can cram for several hours the night before the test and still get a good grade. However, this is rarer than you may hope. Most people need to see information several times, over a period of time, for them to really commit it to memory. This means that, instead of doing a single long study session, break your studying into smaller sessions over a longer period of time. Five one-hour study sessions over a week will be less stressful and more effective than a single five-hour cram session. It may take a bit of time for you to learn how long and how often you need to study for a class, but once you do you’ll be able to remember the information you need and reduce some of the stress that comes from schoolwork, tests, and studying.

#3: Remove Distractions

When you’re studying, especially if it’s for a subject you don’t enjoy, it can be extremely tempting to take “quick breaks” from your work. There are untold distractions all around us that try to lure our concentration away from the task at hand. However, giving in to temptation can be an awful time suck. A quick glance at your phone can easily turn into an hour of wasting time on the internet, and that won’t help you get the score you’re looking for. In order to avoid distractions, remove distractions completely from your study space.

Eat a meal or a snack before you begin studying so you’re not tempted to rummage through the fridge as a distraction. Silence your phone and keep it in an entirely different room. If you’re studying on a computer, turn your WIFI off if it’s not essential to have. Make a firm rule that you can’t get up to check on whatever has you distracted until your allotted study time is up.

#4: Reward Yourself When You Hit a Milestone

To make studying a little more fun, give yourself a small reward whenever you hit a study milestone. For example, you might get to eat a piece of candy for every 25 flashcards you test yourself on, or get to spend 10 minutes on your phone for every hour you spend studying. You can also give yourself larger rewards for longer-term goals, such as going out to ice cream after a week of good study habits. Studying effectively isn’t always easy, and by giving yourself rewards, you’ll keep yourself motivated.

body_dogreward

Daaaance to the music

It’s still not clear which type of music is best — classical, country, rock, or hip-hop — so go with your favorite. Give those biology notes a soundtrack and feel at least some stress slide away. de Witte M, et al. (2019). Effects of music interventions on stress-related outcomes: A systematic review and two meta-analyses. DOI: 10.1080/17437199.2019.1627897

Just before staring at a piece of paper for 3 hours, direct your gaze inward for 3 minutes. Research suggests meditation can boost attention span and improve focus. And if you do it often enough, you can keep those intellectual gains well past the college years. Zanesco AP, et al. (2018). Cognitive aging and long-term maintenance of attentional improvements following meditation training. DOI: 10.1007/s41465-018-0068-1

Power Words

abstract: Something that exists as an idea or thought but not concrete or tangible (touchable) in the real world. Beauty, love and memory are abstractions; cars, trees and water are concrete and tangible. (in publishing) A short summary of a scientific paper, a poster or a scientist’s talk. Abstracts are useful to determine whether delving into the details of the whole scientific paper will yield the information you seek.

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: (ADHD) This is a disorder characterized by not being able to focus or pay attention, being physically overactive, not being able to control behavior, or a combination of these.

COVID-19: A name given the coronavirus that caused a massive outbreak of potentially lethal disease, beginning in December 2019. Symptoms included pneumonia, fever, headaches and trouble breathing.

data: Facts and/or statistics collected together for analysis but not necessarily organized in a way that gives them meaning. For digital information (the type stored by computers), those data typically are numbers stored in a binary code, portrayed as strings of zeros and ones.

distraction: Any event or situation that draws someone’s attention away from whatever had been his or her main focus. Distractions can be external events, such as sounds or sights; or they can be internal events, such as thoughts or emotions.

journal: (in science) A publication in which scientists share their research findings with experts (and sometimes even the public). Some journals publish papers from all fields of science, technology, engineering and math, while others are specific to a single subject. The best journals are peer-reviewed: They send all submitted articles to outside experts to be read and critiqued. The goal, here, is to prevent the publication of mistakes, fraud or sloppy work.

model: A simulation of a real-world event (usually using a computer) that has been developed to portray something or to predict one or more likely outcomes. Or an individual or thing that is meant to display how something would work in or look on others.

stress: (in biology) A factor — such as unusual temperatures, movements, moisture or pollution — that affects the health of a species or ecosystem. (in psychology) A mental, physical, emotional or behavioral reaction to an event or circumstance (stressor) that disturbs a person or animal’s usual state of being or places increased demands on a person or animal; psychological stress can be either positive or negative.

superficial: Something that is on the surface (hence, not deep), such as the skin of the body. Or, something that appears important until, looked at more closely, there is little substance to the claim.

Champions’ Mindset: Unleash The Power of Peak Performance

An often-neglected but crucial key to the puzzle of how to study effectively comes in making sure you yourself are well. You have to think of yourself as an athlete – an elite, exam-taking athlete. And you cannot possibly perform at your best unless you are taking good care of your mind and body.

29. Keep Going

Once you do decide you’re a high-performer, you’ll behave accordingly! That might only mean a small tweak to your habits each day. Working three hours instead of two. Using retrieval practice not just re-reading.

And if you struggle to associate with that new identity as a high performer today: then PRETEND. Ask yourself what a high performer would do in this situation? How would they tackle this assignment, this tricky exam question? Act accordingly.

30. Keep Growing

31. Keep Walking

A brisk walk is a great way to take a “quality break”. It will not only reset your focus, but also boost your creativity! People often find a good idea often pops into their head while out on a walk, and psychologists have good evidence for the relationship between walking and creativity.

32. Keep Talking

33. Keep Breathing

Taking slow, calm breaths from deep in your belly is a great tonic to soothe jittery nerves. Get in the habit of practising regularly. It’s another great way to find the right mindset to study effectively.

And if you struggle with anxiety, consider practising meditation: it’s not woo-woo or religious any more, it’s mainstream, and it just teaches how to focus your mind in the present and stop it racing with worries about the future.

34. Take A Pressure Vaccine

References:

https://blog.prepscholar.com/how-to-study-for-a-test
https://greatist.com/happiness/better-study-tips-test
https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/top-10-tips-study-smarter-not-longer-study-skills
https://examstudyexpert.com/how-to-study-effectively/

The Letter from Birmingham Jail

The letter from Birmingham Jail is an account that is written by Martin Luther King Jr. on the needs to end segregation against the blacks while being held for holding an illegal protest. Luther contends that all humans are equal despite the racial differences that are majorly evident through the color of the skin. Though he is arrested for leading blacks in a revolution, he calls for peace and calmness as the society towards the era of justice and equality for all despite the evident differences. According to Luther, race is a form of diversity that humanity ought to appreciate, and everyone needs to be given an equal chance in the society despite the evident differences that are pegged on the physical characteristics.

In the letter, Martin Luther King contends that he had exercised civil disobedience with the quest to change the detrimental laws in the society while respecting the institutions and holders of offices in the institutions set up the constitution. According to Luther, civil disobedience is the act of not obeying the demands established by the government while at the same time having the willingness to be arrested and face the law for breaking the law. As such, civil disobedience dictates that one must respect the state while paying allegiance to the law but objecting to the iniquities that mushrooming from the oppressive laws.

Martin Luther King further contends that the moderates pose the bottlenecks that hamper delivery of justice in the society. The moderates, according to Luther, are majorly the whites who would opt to maintain law and order rather than analyzing the situational context created by law and opposing the tyrant laws (King 135). King further contends that the “the white moderates would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice” (135). Luther further contends that the moderates lack the autonomy that could enable them to make independent choices and decisions that would lead to a progressive society. The definition of peace according to the moderates is different from that of the leftists. While the moderates contend that peace is when the systems are not destabilized, the radicals led by Luther content that peace can only be present when justice is served equally to all in the society.

The quest for social justice and order is what has led to the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement is a call for all citizens to place checks and balances to the government and identify the oppressive system that needs to be watered down to create a progressive society. The liberal society can only result when the minority and the majority in the society have equal access to opportunities and privileges that are offered to the citizens by the state. The civil rights movements emanated from the agitation to end racial segregation (Ross 113). Currently, the civil rights movements have metamorphosed to fight for the rights of the marginalized groups such as women and LGBT. The vulnerable populations need adequate access to job opportunities and feeling respected by the members of the society despite their gender identity, sexual orientation or interpersonal differences that may be present. Additionally, the civil rights serve to offer education to the public on the governance system within their country. The civil rights movement has increased public participation in the matters of the state, thereby, empowering the citizens to hold the government accountable for its actions. Therefore, the civil rights movements highlight the ills perpetuated by the government to the citizens and about this government move you can read in this essay on the civil rights movement.

Conservative discontent over ‘unintended consequences’ of open primaries

An article in the Times this week highlighted the ongoing debate over Tory ‘open’ primaries noting the dismay of some Tory MP’s at the ‘unintended consequences’ of the selection method. The discontent stems from Congleton where last weekend Fiona Bruce, head of a community law firm in Warrington, triumphed over Mathew Hancock, Mr Osborne’s chief of staff.

As most herald the success of all-postal ballots the loosening of control over candidate choice has predictably ruffled some feathers. The argument though largely dismissed in the case of Congleton is that open primaries are vulnerable to particular interest groups an accusation not supported by research or the Open Up campaign!

In Congleton out of 220 participants, 35 members of Fiona Bruce’s local church took part in the primary leading to one Shadow Minister’s fear of religious groups mobilising support:

“We do not want the Tory Party to become like the Republican Party in this respect”.

“Once we had rotten boroughs, now we have a rotten Parliament”

John Strafford has held office at virtually every level in the voluntary part of the Conservative Party, including nine years on the former National Union Executive Committee.   In his newly-published book, Our Fight for Democracy – A History of Democracy in the United Kingdom, he analyses the weaknesses of British democracy today and suggests how it could be improved.

In July 2009, as the open primary in Totnes was taking place, the Board of the Conservative Party was meeting to determine the rules for the future selection of parliamentary candidates.   It was a stormy meeting – the last stand in the battle to defend the rights of ordinary Party members – a battle that was lost.   The decisions taken will affect democracy in the United Kingdom for a generation.   So what happened?

Under the new rules the Party Chairman will decide whether a local Association should select its candidate by a Special General Meeting or by an Open Primary.

For each constituency a sifting meeting will be held at a place designated by the Party Chairman at which the Approved List of candidates will be reduced to six names, 50% of whom will be women.   At this meeting there will be six representatives of the local Association including its Chairman and two Deputy Chairmen.   The Party Chairman will have a veto on the six names to go forward to the next stage of Open Primary or Special General Meeting.

As from the 1st January 2010 the Party Chairman will give an Association the names of three parliamentary candidates from which to choose their candidate.

The real impact of this is that the Party Chairman will determine Conservative candidates and consequently the Conservative Party composition in the House of Commons.   The Labour Party looks as though it is going down a similar route.   Many of the current members of the Cabinet were parachuted into their seats by the Labour Party hierarchy.   Peerage promises are seductive.   So a tiny number of people from our two main parties will determine who sits in the House of Commons and effectively form the government of this country.   Is this the way dictatorships are created without the need for bloody revolution?

So how are Open Primaries affected by these changes?   The model for Open Primaries is normally the United States.   How do Conservative Open Primaries compare?

In the United States anyone can stand.   As we have seen above, under the Conservatives, the Party Chairman decides who the candidates will be.   You can virtually guarantee that the only candidates allowed to stand are safe Conservatives.   After all they have to fight a General Election on the Conservative Party manifesto, which they have to sign up to, even though they will have no say in its composition.

In many States electors have to register support for a Party in order to vote.   With the Conservatives anyone on the Electoral Roll can vote in an Open Postal Primary or an Open Meeting Primary, even if they are members of another Party.

The candidates in the United States raise their own funds for campaigning in the primary.   The Conservative Party pays for a postal primary.   The costs in Totnes amounted to £38,000.   There are only half a dozen constituencies in the country that could afford this, so unless the Party at National level funds a postal primary it will not happen.

Campaigns in the United States are usually prolonged, giving everyone plenty of time to investigate the candidates.   The campaigns run by the Conservatives are strictly limited in time

Caucus meetings of registered voters are held in the United States at which the merits of the different candidates are debated and then voted upon.   These are banned by the Conservative Party.

A distinction should be drawn between Open Primaries where there is a postal ballot as in Totnes and Open Meeting Primaries, which are often lumped together and called Open Primaries.

The most common, because of costs, are the Open Meeting Primaries.   The Conservative Party imposes a number of restrictions on Open Meeting Primaries:

The meetings are advertised in the local paper so there is no guarantee that every elector is aware that the selection is taking place.

At the meeting no debate is allowed between the candidates – they are not even allowed to be on the platform together.

CVs of the candidates are only made available at the start of the meeting.

The elector must be present for the entire meeting and cannot leave for any reason.   Contrast this with a postal primary where the elector doesn’t have to hear any candidate before voting.

Limits are imposed by Central Office on the number of money candidates can spend on their campaigns.

The vote on the final adoption of the selected candidate by Conservative Party members is done by a show of hands, rather than by a secret ballot, which can be intimidating, and which the Conservative government made illegal in the Trade Unions in the 1980s.

It can be seen from the above that there are major differences between what the Conservatives call Open Primaries and what in practice most people understand as Open Primaries.   The Conservative Open Primaries are a gimmick.   The media and the people have been hoodwinked by the Conservatives into believing that the process is totally open. It is not.   The process is controlled in detail by the Party hierarchy.   There is also the danger that the selection can be manipulated by the members of other parties, who can vote for the weakest candidate.   The Conservative Party does not care because it has vetted all the candidates.

There is much talk about electoral reform but when will the people “wake up and smell the coffee?”   Whatever the system of election, be it First Past The Post or Proportional Representation it becomes meaningless if the candidates are chosen by a few individuals.   Our two main political parties are wholly undemocratic organizations controlled by small oligarchies. In a democracy, it is essential that the political parties are themselves democratic.   It is in a dictatorship that candidates are imposed.   “Once we had rotten boroughs, now we have a rotten parliament”.   Democracy R.I.P.

“Open primaries, and in particular all-postal ones, are working”

This was the surprising endorsement from the Guardian’s Julian Glover on the Conservatives all-postal primaries. On Friday, over 12, 500 voters in Gosport picked Caroline Dinenage through an ‘Open Postal Primary’ to replace the infamous Sir Peter Viggars. Glover’s article highlights that Dinenage:

“is the 14th person to be picked to fill one of the safe seats that have just come vacant (with eight more currently to go)”.

As noted by Glover, 38%  of these new candidates are women, three are doctors (one chosen just ahead of a teacher) and the final two run businesses. Only one of the new influx of Tory candidates went to Eton. Has the stereotypical upper-class, very wealthy, aloof Tory been replaced by:

“ local, middle income, probably state educated and quite possibly employed in the public sector, with a record of voluntary work and a deep-seated distrust of the central state and the European Union”?

As the Conservatives seek to win a solid majority in the General Election, open primaries are proving to provide a breath of fresh air, not only to the Conservative party, but also to the state of British politics

Glover endorses the Conservative policy of directing candidate selection as being responsible for the “change” of future MPs.

Postal Open Primary – Gosport

The second ever “postal primary” was held in Gosport today, giving everyone in the constituency the chance to have a say in who should be the town’s Conservative Candidate.  The winner was Ms Dinenage, who will fight Tory Sir Peter Viggers’ seat, the MP who claimed for the infamous £1,645 duck house. According to the BBC news-site:

“The 38-year-old mother-of-two secured 4,892 votes, or 38.6%. James Bethell, a venture capitalist based in London, came second with 2,965 votes. Sam Gyimah, an entrepreneur, came third with 2,867 votes, and Julia Manning, an eye specialist in the NHS, came fourth, polling 1,935.“

The selection process was first used in Totnes, in July earlier on this year where local GP, Dr Sarah Wollaston replaced expenses row MP, Anthony Steen.

‘Open’ Primary held in Esher and Walton

An ‘open’ primary was held in Esher and Walton, a Tory safe seat, last week. Dominic Raab, a lawyer who currently serves as Chief of Staff to Dominic Grieve, won on the second ballot after fellow candidate, Jo-Anne Nadler, was knocked out in the first round.

The event was attended by over 700 members of the public, making it the most successful open primary to have been held in the UK. However, according to reports Conservative HQ again chose the final six conservative candidates from over 600 applications therefore ensuring central office control.

Dominic Raab, has yet to move to the area, but will now take the place of Ian Taylor, the current Conservative MP, who is to stand down as a result of the expenses scandal. According to, Mr Raab “one of the real advantages of this open primary has been the opportunity to get down here – talking to residents, talking to businesses, talking to councillors”. Local constituents must be delighted that this ‘open’ primary has ensured Mr Raab the opportunity to ‘get down here’ to the area he will now live in and represent.

It must be noted that constituents’ questions had to be submitted before the event, and spontaneous questions after each speech were not permitted. There is no doubt that the Conservatives have led the way on the ‘open primary’ discussion but it would seem there are still immediate changes needed before these can justifiably be labelled truly ’open’.

Local candidates missing in Beckenham

Questions are being raised about how ‘open’ Beckenham’s primary for Conservative candidate will transpire to be. According to ConservativeHome local discontent is brewing following the Executive request of ‘someone who would be a first rate constituency MP and that the preference was for a local candidate’.

Yet out of the six representatives that made the shortlist, none of them are from the area. This is despite the fact that two locals did apply: MEP Syed Kamall and GLA Member for the constituency James Cleverly. Cllr Nicholas Bennet, former MP and until the most recent AGM Beckenham constituency Chairman and Cllr Steve Carr are also rumoured to have ‘thrown their hats in the ring’.

According to ConservativeHome, CCHQ are ‘actively discriminating against local candidates because they know the open primary process involving a public hustings… favours them’. Open Up calls on CCHQ to ensure their positive step of embracing primaries are safeguarded by ensuring local people can both stand and vote and that choice will reside with constituents and not HQ.

Add your name to the petition and help change Britain into a more honest, effective and modern democracy.

Nick Milton: Who’d be a Politician?

Sworn at. Verbally abused in the high street. Treated with contempt on the door step.

In the current climate who’d be a politician? And before you accuse me of exaggeration I’ve experienced all this and more in the last few months. And I have never been elected. Or received a penny in expenses.

Meeting the public and knocking on doors gives you a good idea of the raw anger that has been unleashed by the expenses scandal. The tiny minority who claimed that all politicians are in it for themselves are now a vocal majority. All politicians are tarred with the same brush. Politics is on the back foot. Some claim it is broken beyond repair.

Sadly there is no silver bullet when it comes to repairing the damage caused by the duck houses, dog food and phantom mortgages. But I believe if there is one measure which can help to heal this open wound it is open primaries.

Politicians are very good at talking about electoral reform but far less good at implementing it. There is no bill in the Queens speech to introduce reform of the voting system. Sir Christopher Kelly’s proposals will inevitably be watered down. The Speakers conference on parliamentary representation will be too little too late.

We need reform now which can help to rebuild the public’s trust in its elected representatives before it is too late. That means before the next election. That is why I think every politician who chooses to or is forced to stand down as a result of the expenses scandal should be replaced not by their constituency party or from a list but by an open primary.

The only really radical measure which has been adopted in recent years to change the face of the Commons is women only shortlists. And while this has resulted in a welcome increase in the number of women in Parliament it has not changed the type of politician who enters Parliament. Too many honourable members whether men or women are still career politicians or the usual suspects from the usual backgrounds.

If the Parliamentary authorities adopted open primaries we could see many more people from different backgrounds being elected to the green benches. More nurses, teachers, small business entrepreneurs, charity workers, environmental activists or soldiers. This would be good for democracy and good for our politics.

Being selected by an open primary would give a candidate a legitimacy that elected politicians now badly lack. As an environmental activist and former Greenpeace campaigner I would welcome standing in an open primary in the future. Why? Because I believe the public are far more likely to favour someone who has spent their life fighting against climate change than someone who has spend their life fighting in council meetings .

There are already encouraging signs that this may happen. In August the Tories announced the winner of the first ever open postal vote of an entire constituency in Totnes. The result was not a career politician or one of the usual suspects but a doctor, Sarah Wollaston. And if the Open Up campaign is successful others will follow.

Many big hitters in the Labour party have recently shown their support for open primaries. They include Ken Livingstone, who has backed them to elect the next mayor of London and the Tottenham MP David Lammy, who has called for them in every London borough. The foreign secretary, David Miliband and his brother Ed have also backed the cause, arguing the case in cabinet as part of the answer to the cynicism surrounding politics and falling party membership.

For open primaries to really engage with the electorate, political parties cannot just use them as convenient way of deflecting public anger, to be quietly dropped when the heat dies down. Primaries need to be built into our political system as one the surest ways of reconnecting the public with politicians. But they come at a cost. The open primary in Totnes cost the Tories about £40,000 to organise, good reason some critics claim why we can’t afford them.

But in the greater scheme of things this seems a small price to pay to regain the public’s trust and participation in politics. Building the cost of open primaries into future discussions about the state funding of political parties and election campaigns is the way forward in the longer term. In the shorter term why not fund them out of the expenditure saved from changes to the expenses system and from the money given back from those discredited by the scandal?

Think of the difference it could make.

Listened to. Actively engaged in the high street. Treated with respect on the doorstep.

www.kenilworthlabour.org