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  • Major & career exploration

    Choosing a major is a process that involves several steps and requires students to take many factors into consideration. Though choosing a major can be a confusing and at times a difficult decision, students can be purposeful as they work thru the process exploring and choosing a major. The AAC has outlined some basic steps that may help you thru this process.

    Step 1:  Self-Assessment

     The first step in choosing a major is typically having an awareness of "who you are". Consider taking assessments that help you to understand your personality, interests, skills, and values.

    Suggestions for Self Assessment

    Step 2:  Explore

    Exploring Majors

    After learning about yourself, you should now be able to move forward to research majors and see which UW-L majors may fit you the best. The more information that you are able to gather about majors, the more likely you will be able to make an informed decision that you are comfortable with.

    Suggestions to Explore Majors

    Exploring Careers: Make the connections of majors to careers

    Only in a some instances, nursing and accounting for example, will a major prepare you for a specific occupation. While this can be frustrating to some students, it can have its advantages. The skills that you learn in a major may prepare you for a wide variety of jobs and opportunities found in an ever-changing job market.

    Suggestions to Explore Careers

    Step: 3:  Evaluate Your Choices

    After gathering information about yourself, majors, and careers, you are hopefully now in a position to narrow down your major choice to two or three options.  Create a pros and cons list for each remaining major to reduce your list further.  Ask your some of the following questions:

    • Are the required classes for the major a match with your interests, abilities, & values?
    • Are there admission requirements that may impact completion of the major?
    • What's the approximate length of time needed to complete the major & degree requirements? Will this be okay for you? 
    • Will the major allow you to pursue specific career goals that you may have identified?
    • Are there minors that might complement the major?
    Here are a few resources that may help you evaluate your choices

    Step 4:  Take Action: Make a Decision and Implement a Plan

    After exploring your options, and the time comes that you are ready to declare a major.  Start the process by:

    • Completing a "Change of Program" form and submit it to the College/School that houses your major.
    • Make it a point to meet with your new academic advisor, once assigned, to discuss your academic goals and plans courses for the major.
    • You can also begin the process of looking at longer range goals such as career planning or graduate school
    Note:  Declaration of a Psychology major requires students to first complete the New Major Tutorial and then meet with the Psychology department. 

    Additional Information 

    Decision Making Strategies - University of Tennessee Career Services

    Gaining career experience during college

    All my friends know what they want to do with their lives.  False!

    Over half of all college students will change their major at least once.  In fact three major changes is not uncommon.  Does this sound like rock solid decision making to you?  The majority of students have some level of indecision about their choice of major.  This indecision is often the result of misinformation about self and careers.  Many students declare a major too soon because they fell pressure from family and friends, not because they know all they need to about themselves and their options.  

    Only a few major will lead to good jobs.  False!

    Employers are much more interested in your skills, abilities, experiences, and capacity to learn than your major.  What you do while you're earning your degree is just as important as the degree itself.  Gaining relevant work experience, networking, and fine-tuning transferable skill will land you a great job. No single major is the ticket to success.  

    The right major will come to me in time. False!

    Some students believe that just by being in college they will somehow figure out what major to choose (a bolt of lightening, perhaps).  Others believe that their parents, friends, professor, or advisors can pick the best major for them.  Choosing a major takes time, commitment, and hard work.  You are the only one who can decide what is best for you.  In order to do this you must learn a great deal about your likes, dislikes, skills, interests, abilities, etc.  Then you must educate yourself about careers.  No decision can be made well without using a systematic process of gathering information, identifying alternatives, and weighing all available options. 

    Your major will determine the career that you will have for the rest of your life. False!

    There are two things wrong with this statement.  First, in most cases your major does not determine your career.  Any one major can prepare you for any number of careers.  Second, you will most likely not have one career for the rest of your life.  Experts predict that today's college students will have four the five different careers over their lifetime.  Your college education is meant to create a foundation for you unique career path, not train you for any one job.

    Source University of Oshkosh - UARC

    Hear from current students about their decision making process when choosing a major at UW-L.     

    Student perspective on choosing the Communication Studies major

    Caroline Kerr

    Student: Caroline Kerrn

    Major: Communication Studies: Interpersonal Communication Emphasis

    How did you decide on a major?

    I didn't know what to major in for a long time because I was a good student all around and didn't know what was something that I could really put a passion into.  Someone recommended CST 190 to me and I really enjoyed it. I loved the different emphases and realized how applicable communication is to everything. Now that I'm in my core classes I can tell this i right for me because I love my Comm classes and can't wait to get a job where I can practice all the things I've learned. I took a chance and with an intro class which really paid off for me. I also took an intro class for another major and that was hell for me, so I learned from that too. 

    What do you like about your program?

    I like that there are four different emphases for students to fine tune their skills to. I also enjoy how the Communication Club brings in speakers who are in the field and show us all that we can do with our program. The faculty care and are easy to it is communicate with, too.   

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    I want to graduate with my Communication Studies degree and then move onto grad school so I can can obtain my Master's in School Counseling. With this I can become a high school counselor. 

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    Do you enjoy the homework? Does it actually interest you? Have you done job shadows? Reach out to professionals in different fields. Chances are they were where you once where, unsure of how to craft their future, and they can give you advice, as well as give you an inside look at their occupation. From what I've seen, they really love to share their passion. Go to the Academic Advising Center and take the Career Locker inventory tests. That helped me clarify some skills and interests. Also, don't let people put you down if your leaning towards this or that. What you choose to major in is for you, not anybody else. Fulfill yourself; don't try to please others and make yourself unhappy.


    Student perspective on choosing the Early Childhood-Elementary Education

    Angela Fersch

    Student: Angela Fersch

    Major: Early Childhood-Elementary Education

    How did you decide on a major?

    I decided on my major because I love working with children. Children are the building blocks to our future and they deserve the best environment to be pushed to succeed. Children make me smile and I love leaning and growing from them.  .  

    What do you like about your program?

    The best part about my program is that you build such a strong relationship with all of your professors. We get to know all of our professors on a one to one basis and they truly do become a mentor. 

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    In the next few year I will hope to be teaching kindergarten or first grade. I would love to travel to Arizona to teach, but we will see where my path takes me. 

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    The best advice I have is to put yourself out there. Get involved with different campus organizations and volunteer in different places and talk to people. The best resource is networking and building relationships. Joining different organizations can help introduce you to a large variety of people that can help surface some of your interests.  


    Student perspective on choosing the Finance & Economics majors

    Lucas Lampert

    Student: Lucas Lampert

    Majors: Finance and Economics

    How did you decide on a major?

    I decided I wanted to major in both finance and economics after taking both a personal finance class and an economics class in high school. I enjoyed the classes a lot and knew it was something i was interested in right away.  . 

    What do you like about your program?

    Right now I am considering going into banking with my degree.     

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    I would love to work on Capital Hill someday. I know it will take a lot of work to get there, but it would be fantastic to make positive changes for the United States.  

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    My advice for undeclared students is just think about some of the things your passionate about and pick a degree that fits your passion.


    Student perspective on choosing the Political Science & Public Administration majors

    Katherine McDonah

    Student: Katherine McDonah

    Majors: Public Administration & Political Science

    How did you decide on a major?

    I decided on my major because I know I am good at working with people and also curious to learn more about political science.  

    What do you like about your program? 

    I like the challenges my majors provide me with, especially political science. This major challenges me to look at two difference sides of issues and see the pros and cons of each viewpoint.  

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    As of now I am looking for jobs more focused towards my minor. I want to work for a software company that creates software focused on EHR's/EMR's (Electronic Health Records/Electronic Medical Records).

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    Be okay with not knowing your major! After all, you will want to choose a major you enjoy since it will prepare you for your future job.  


    Student perspective on choosing the Community Health Education major

    Elizabeth Bergum

    Student: Elizabeth Bergum

    Major: Community Health Education

    How did you decide on a major?

    I talked with my adviser when I was undecided and told her I didn't want to be a doctor, but I wanted to be in the health field helping people.  

    What do you like about your program?

    The people in it are the best! You become a part of the Community Health Education (CHE) family when you get into the CHE classes. 

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    I am hoping to work in a bigger company handling and creating employee wellness programs. 

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    Talk with your adviser and tell them what you want to do, even if there's not necessarily a major for it and see what they suggest. They're extremely helpful, willing to listen, and want you to succeed.