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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 connection between majors to careers

    While it is true that certain majors will prepare you for a specific occupation, it is also true that many occupations have employees that come from a variety of academic backgrounds. This is because some employers place a value on specific skills rather than a specific degree.  So it is relevant to ask yourself, "Are the careers that I'm interested in require a specific major or do I have the flexibility to choose a major that best fits my academic interest?"                                                           
      

    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 Marketing major

    Major Spotlight Qiwei Zhu

    Student: Qiwei (Wendy Grace) Zhu

    Major: Marketing

    How did you decide on a major?

    At first, my major was Finance. However, after I took a couple finance course and more about finance and marketing from my professors, I realized that finance is not suitable for me, therefore I switched my major to marketing. I love communication and creative thinking, in addition, as an international student from China, I have some experience dealing with global business and import and export documentation. My career goal is to operate a luxury wedding dress shop in China.Therefore marketing is a perfect fit for me.  

    What do you like about your program?

    I started my study abroad experience when I was a freshman, and I am seeking a bachelor degree with a major in Marketing in the College of Business Administration (CBA). My favorite part and also my biggest take away from UW-L's CBA is the Integrated Core Program that I took in Fall 2014. This is a program that teaches students to integrate materials from three separate marketing, management, and finance principle classes into three real business group projects. i gained quite a bit from this program, such as business consulting skills, marketing research, and business etiquette.  

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    I am searching for and doing an internship right now. I might not be going for a masters degree immediately after I graduate. What I am planning to do is gain as much working experience as I can after I finish my bachelor degree. As a business student, real business experience is much more important than just a degree.  I might work for three to five years to see whether I need further study, if yes, I will go to graduate school, if not, after I gained enough experience and business resource, I will start my own business.  

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    Figuring out what you want is a key way to success. Do not be afraid of changing your major. Undergraduate school is a time designed for students to figure out their interest. Only when you really know what you want to do, to do things you are passionate about, will you be the expert in that area, no matter which major you choose.  

     

    Student perspective on choosing the Physics major with biomedical concentration

    Alisha Boerner

    Student: Alisha Boerner

    Major: Physics with Biomedical Concentration

    How did you decide on a major?

    I was declared as Pre-Physical Therapy but did not know what to declare as my major. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but did not declare the physics major until later in my freshman year. I mainly did this because I wanted to keep the same adviser for fall registration.  

    What do you like about your program?

    I like everything, although it is difficult i enjoy my classes, professors, and classmates.  

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    I hope to get into the physical therapy program here at UW-L or I might be transferring to another school to pursue a degree in Biomedical engineering.  

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    Find something you enjoy. Don't pick something because it is an "easy" major or something that will make you a lot of money later in life (although I know this still has an impact on your decision).   

     

    Student perspective on choosing the Communications Studies & Spanish majors

    Maricruz Sanchez

    Student: Maricruz Sanchez

    Majors: Communication Studies: Interpersonal emphasis & Spanish

    How did you decide on a major?

    My research interest as a McNair scholar consolidated my choice in pursuing the field of Communication Studies. As a Chicana, I knew from the start of my academic career that I wanted to continue gaining knowledge in the Spanish language in order to stay connected to my culture.  

    What do you like about your program?

    The professors and faculty in the Department of Communication Studies are what fuel my passion. They provide an environment that is both encouraging and challenging. 

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    I hope to attain my Ph.D., with the intent on exploring social justice issues.   

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    My advice to students exploring different majors is to not be afraid to change your mind. This is the time to learn about yourself too, in doing so you will learn what is the best fit in your academic career. I highly encourage studying abroad, doing research, and taking internships when possible; striving for a well-rounded college experience is what secures a successful future. 

     

    Student perspective on choosing the Early Childhood-Middle Childhood major

    Courtney Schwichtenberg

    Student: Courtney Schwichtenberg

    Majors: Early Childhood - Middle Childhood

    How did you decide on a major?

    I knew that I wanted to be a teacher for a very long time, and always worked with children growing up. When i first came to college, I thought that I needed to focus on a career that would keep me financially stable. I started at a Marketing major, but knew that my heart need to follow the teaching path instead. I fell in love with child development and young children more than anything, so I decided that Early Childhood Education would be the best fit for me.  

    What do you like about your program? 

    The Early Childhood-Middle Childhood program has so many amazing attributes. The professors are approachable, accessible, and incredibly caring. They truly wnat you to succed. Our program gives us field experince during  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?

    I hope to go on and become an early elementary teacher when I graduate. I would love to work anywhere that supports child-focused teaching strategies and creative curriculum. 

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    For students that are undeclared, please don't make that a huge stress in your life! Remember that what you enjoy is most likely going to be what you give the most effort to. Find your passions and see if you can turn them in to a career. You have the opportunity to go anywhere, and do anything! Not many people have that opportunity. You need to embrace learning about various subjects because you never know when something is going to trigger an interest. 

     

    Student perspective on choosing the Politcal Science major

    Anicka Purath

    Student: Anicka Purath

    Major: Political Science 

    How did you decide on a major?

    I have always been very passionate about politics, the government, and law so I decided to major in political science to further my understanding of these various areas.  

    What do you like about your program?

    First and foremost, I love the professors. When I have a professor who is so excited about the material we are going through in class, I am much more engaged and excited to learn. Secondly, I really like the course options that allow me to gain an in-depth look into specific topics. Third, through the political science department, I have had so many opportunities that have allowed me to grow intellectually and on a individual level as well.  

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    Upon graduation, I plan to continue to law school and eventually work as a constitutional lawyer.  In addition to this, I would like to run for office at either the local , state, or national level.

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    My advice would be to choose a major in something that you are passionate about. Learning is much more beneficial and intriguing when you are interested in the subject matter. While you may feel that you will be unable to get a job upon graduation if you choose to major in your area of interest, there are many more opportunities than meets the eye.  My last piece of advice would be to explore your options and take advantage of your advisors and/or professors. They care about sutdents and are more than willing to help you along your way!