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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 the Communication Studies major

    Alexis Kiefer

    Student: Alexis Kiefer

    Major: Communication Studies: Organizational and Professional Emphasis

    How did you decide on a major?

    My sophomore year I decided to take CST 190, which is an introductory course to the Communication major. I found the course really interesting and immediately decided Communication was something I wanted to continue studying.

    What do you like about your program? 

    In all honesty I love everything about the communication Studies program. All of the professors are so helpful and I've genuinely enjoyed all of the courses I've taken so far. Plus, I definitely think that this is a major that not only a major that applies to the professional field, but the things that we learn are useful in everyday life as well.

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    The Communication Studies degree really opens a lot of doors when you're looking to go out in the professional world; there's tons of stuff you can do. My goal is to have a career in Public Relations.

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    My advice to students who have undeclared majors is to take a variety of courses and take your time to decide; it's a big decision. Also I think it's a good idea to look up some career choices that interest you and see what kind of majors can be utilized in those fields.


    Student perspective on the Radiation Therapy major

    Major Spotlight Annie McIntyre

    Student Annie McIntyre

    Major: Radiation Therapy

    How did you decide on a major?

    I decided on this major because I was very involved, even captain my senior year, in my High School's Colleges Against Cancer club. While in this club, I learned a lot about cancer and wanted to do as much as I could to help. I also ended up having to go to get a CT scan, for an infected tooth, which is how I got introduced to radiology. I thought the whole process was very interesting and that's what got me hooked!

    What do you like about your program?

    I like that my program does not have any graduate school. I can finish my degree in 4-5 years, and have a career lined up for me.

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    With my degree, I hope to become a radiation therapist, and use my Spanish minor to travel to Spanish-Speaking countries, and help finish the fight against cancer.

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    For undeclared students, I advise you to follow you heart, and know you can always turn a passion into a career. But also keep in mind the one question, "Can this career get me the financial status I need?"


    Student perspective on the Accountancy major

    Student: Courtney Coonen

    Major: Accountancy

    How did you decide on a major?

    I decided on accounting for a few reasons. After taking a class in high school I realized that accounting could be a possibility but I never seriously considered it as a major and future career. As a freshman I was working in Career Services as an office assistant and was given the opportunity to help out at the Accounting Career Expo and Accounting Career Fair. It was at that event that I decided to sign up for my first accounting class after I talked to some of my future professors and was able to talk to various UW-L alumni who were accounting majors recruiting at the event.

    What do you like about your program?

    I love the accounting program at UW-L. During the second to last semester of our program, a lot of student take the opportunity to intern at an accounting firm to gain real life experience while also obtaining college credit. I was able to obtain an internship with Baker Tilly in my hometown of Appleton, WI and learned so much within the four month experience. The program at UW-L really sets up students to succeed. All of the professors have been very helpful as well. 

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    Upon graduating this December, I plan on starting work full time at Baker Tilly as a Staff Accountant and will work towards obtaining my CPA.

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    My advice for students exploring different majors is to take chances. I went out on a limb and signed up for an accounting course that would not have counted towards many other majors or general education requirements and ended up loving it. Explore all options. Utilize the Academic Advising office. I know from first hand working in Career Services/Academic Advising for the past four and half years how helpful all of the staff is and they genuinely want you to succeed. 


    Student perspective on the Psychology major

    Student: Jordan Hawkinson

    Major: Psychology

    How did you decide on a major?

    When it came to finding the major that fit me best, there were many struggles. I am the kind of person who will put their mind to something and not give anything else a second glance. Although you may think that is a good thing, it actually is not. Going into my freshman year here at UW-L, I had my mind set on becoming a Physical Therapist, which meant I was Undeclared with an emphasis on Pre-PT (Undeclared-Pre-PT). As I was going through my first semester, I realized that this path may not be the best one for me. I was not succeeding in Biology 105 as I should have been, and this is the basis of being a physical therapist. This is when I sought out help with my advisor, Anna Turriff.

    With her help, I was able to really think of what I enjoyed doing, whether it be a hobby, job, a fun class, etc. and figure out what career fit my life better. Going off of the information that we pulled from things I like to do, Anna was able to help me pick out classes I could take to help me explore different routes to finding the perfect major for me. After about a year, I was able to find a major and career path that I want to pursue; Psychology.

    Throughout my experience with the Academic Advising Center, I have had a fantastic experience. I have been given the opportunity to find things that I enjoy that I never thought I would like. I was able to go to the Advising Center any time I had a question on anything regarding my classes or academics. They have been extremely helpful and I have been able to understand more about resources we have on campus. 

    What do you like about your program?

    I decided on Psychology as my major because it is one subject that I am able to comprehend and and it is quite fascinating to me. Along with psychology being fascinating, there are so many different career paths you can take with it.

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    With my Psychology degree, I plan to work in clinics or hospitals with patients who have abnormal disorders or behaviors and help them to deal and live with that disorder.

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    The advice I give to other undeclared students is to not get discouraged! When I realized that physical therapy was not the route, I immediately got stressed out and was scared I wasn't going to find the right path for me. After meeting with my advisor, I was able to take some deep breaths and think about what I like to do.  For me, I tried to not think of a career choice, but about what I was good at and what I liked doing. Once I was able to figure that out, I was then able to look for a career. So I guess my best advice would be to first think about what you excel at and enjoy, and then off of that decide a career that would be right for you. Another thing is to not be embarrassed, you may think you are the only one who is undeclared and have no idea what you want to do, but you would be surprised. Half of the people I have met have been undeclared students or they used to be undeclared, so it is quite common. Also, take your time on deciding what you want to do, you aren't going to be penalized for taking your time; do what makes you happy!