Many students feel they must choose the "right" major to direct their future careers. The "right" major should be something that excites you, something you will enjoy studying for the next few years. Any major can provide you with the academic background for a variety of careers. In addition to your major, you will need to gain skills and knowledge through activities, volunteering, and a variety of experiences related to the career field of your choice.
The truth about some "major" myths...
Myth #1: My major will determine what I do for the rest of my life so I have to pick the right one.
Not true. Some recent research states that up to 75% of working people are in jobs completely unrelated to their college major! There is no one right major for anyone.
Myth #2: I can't decide on a major until I know what career path I want to pursue.
Not true. Many students are unsure of their career paths and choose a major first. They choose a major that they will enjoy and succeed in, and the career path comes later.
Myth #3: My major should be directly related to my career.
Not true. You want to select a major that you enjoy! In addition to your major course of study, make sure you gain relevant experience from internships and campus activities to help completely develop your career goals.
So...How do I decide?
Step One: Self-Assessment
One of the first steps to take to uncover possible majors is to explore your interests, skills, abilities, values, and personality. All of these components can help you more confidently choose an area of study which will lead to a future career path.
Interests: You want to be able to enjoy your classes and future career. If you are interested in your field of study, you will be more energized and mostly likely, perform better.
- What do you like to learn about? What do you like to study?
- What activities do you enjoy?
Skills and Abilities: Skills are talents you have developed while abilities are talents that come naturally to you.
- What are your strengths? What unique skills do you possess?
- What are some weaknesses?
Values: Identifying those things that motivate you can be very important to feeling satisfied in your course of study as well as your career.
- Do you value working with people or independently?
- Are you motivated by learning and helping others?
Personality: Getting a clear picture of your personality will help you understand not only how you learn or take in information, but also how you "fit" in various work environments.
- Would you prefer to be in a more structured work environment, or do you prefer a more flexible, spontaneous environment?
- Do you prefer to study broader topics and theories, or to learn more factual, concrete information?
Step Two: Major Exploration
Many students lack information about what classes they might take as a certain major, as well as, information about the many different kinds of occupations you can pursue with various majors. Some majors directly relate to future occupations, such as nursing = nurse, education = teacher, and accounting = accountant. Other majors may leave you wondering, "What could I do with that major?"
It helps to do some research to discover the options. This research can be done by using websites, books, and real people, too!
- Talk with advisors, faculty, or a career counselor.
- Sign up to take an introductory course to test out a potential major.
- Join a club that supports a certain major or career direction.
- Conduct an informational interview by talking with people in various career fields about their majors.
Some people think that they must choose a major that is directly related to a career field to find a job (e.g., such as Social Work major = Social Worker). Not true! According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers are looking for job seekers who possess skills which can be developed from a variety of majors and experiences, and then transferred to a variety of workplaces.
- Communication Skills
- Teamwork Skills
- Computer Skills
- Interpersonal Skills
- Analytical Skills
- Strong Work Ethics
Step Three: Making a Decision
Even with all of the research, it can still be a difficult decision when it comes to your major. Don't fall victim to the "myths" of choosing a major. Keep in mind that you are the one who will be taking the classes for the next several semesters and there is no one "right" major.