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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

    Authrene Ashton

    Student: Authrene Ashton

    Major: Communication Studies: Organizational & Professional Communication Emphasis

    How did you decide on a major?

    I decided on this major because I not only enjoyed CST 110 but am interested in interactions between people and enjoy speaking in front of others.   

    What do you like about your program?

    I like that it is broad enough to do with it what you want. Also, I like that you get to take courses from each emphasis area to get a well-rounded experience.   

    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 kin of majors can be utilized in those fields. 

     

    Student perspective on choosing the Biology major

    Michele Burkwald Major Spotlight

    Student: Michele Burkwald

    Major: Biology

    How did you decide on a major?

    After a very long time considering all my possibilities and talking to numerous Physical Therapists and Physician Assistants, as well as my advisor, I finally decided to go the science route, with the intentions for it being useful in a medical field later on.  

    What do you like about your program?

    I like that with a biology major you can really go just about any route you wish for a career in the health & sciences.  

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    After graduation, I hope to further my education at a Physician Assistant or Physical Therapy school, with my biology major background.

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    My advice for anyone still undeclared would be to get out there, make phone calls, job shadow possible career interests, because once you have a feel for what it is that you want to do some day, choosing a major will be so much easier. Having a plan can really help ease some stress in deciding a major. 

     

    Student perspective on choosing the Political Science & Public Administration majors

    Major Spotlight Alex Joers

    Student: Alex Joers

    Majors: Political Science and Public Administration

    How did you decide on a major?

    I decided on my major after many considerations I wanted to follow what I had always been interested in. Throughout high school, I had always followed presidential campaigns and the operations of government. Sophomore year I took a trip to Washington D.C. and loved every second of it. After choosing my majors I knew it was right because every course gave me another interesting view of politics and government. 

    What do you like about your program?

    Within the Political Science department there are a wide range of subjects that I have participated in. From Constitutional Law to Non-profits, from Budgeting to Foreign Policy; there have been so many areas I have had the privilege of getting to know a little better. Additionally, I have received a lot of hands on experience through my internships and shadowing experiences that were in my program.  

    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?

    I think that it is best to follow what you are passionate about and interested in. There are a lot of students that might look at the major that will turn into the best job or the highest salary, but you should make sure it's something you like doing otherwise you might be dreading every day of class or work. Major in what you are most interested in.

     

    Student perspective on choosing the Management major 

    Major Spotlight Courtney Pearsall

    Student: Courtney Pearsall

    Major: Management

    How did you decide on a major?

    I chose my major by considering all the possible options UW-L has to offer, doing personal assessments to find out where my interests are, and really thinking about a career that will fit with the lifestyle I want in the future.  I also reached out to many people for their opinions, advice, and any further information they could provide me with about different majors. I also researched information on my own as well. 

    What do you like about your program? 

    I like that the program is flexible in the fact that you can take several career path options. In addition, I like that an internship is available for credit. This allows student to gain important skills in the real world setting while getting credit for their effort and time.

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    I hope to get an internship in Human Resources and find a job in that career path!

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    The advice I would give any undeclared student is to not make a rash decision; take your time and inform yourself. Really consider all the options and talk to experienced people in those fields. In addition, utilize your advisors and the entire faculty on campus. Most importantly, always ask questions!

     

    Student perspective on choosing the Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence major

    Major Spotlight Haley Heinz

    Student: Haley Heinz

    Major: Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence Education

    How did you decide on a major?

    I entered UW-L as an "undeclared" student, but always had the idea in the back of my mind that I wanted to become a teacher. I was a tutor for two young boys my freshman year, and realized that I absolutely love working with children. After many hours of major and career exploration, my initial inclination to become an educator became clear to me. 

    What do you like about your program?

    All the professors I've had in my program are truly salt of the earth people. They genuinely care about their students and provide an incredible amount of guidance and opportunities for their students to achieve success.

    What do you hope to do with your degree?

    My goal is to be an elementary school teacher in a welcoming community. After a few years, I plan to obtain a master's degree in education administration in order to become a principal.

    What advice do you have for undeclared students?

    Take classes that sound interesting to you! My freshman year, I took a political science class because the 2012 presidential election was happening during that semester, and I learned so much. Explore all options that are available to you! You never know what you will discover about yourself.