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 initial step in choosing a major typically begins by having an awareness of "who you are". Are you able to answer the following questions: What do I like (interests)?; What I am good at (skills/abilities); What is important to me (values)? Assessments & self reflection can help you to understand your personality, interests, skills, and values.
Step 2: Explore
After learning about yourself, you should now be able to move forward to research majors and see which UWL 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.
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:
- Does the course work in the major match my interests?
- Do I enjoy the skills that the major will require?
- What would I enjoy about the required classes in the major?
- What would I find difficult about the required classes in the major?
- Are there minors that might complement the major?
- Will there be admission requirements that I need meet to gain entry to the major?
- Will the approximate length of time needed to complete the major & degree requirements be acceptable?
- Does the major allow me to pursue the career goals that I have in mind at this point?
- I am choosing the major for myself or to please family & friends?
Here are a few resources that may help you evaluate your choices
- Pros and Cons Worksheet - Illinois State University
- Career Decision Making Worksheet.pdf- Kansas State Univ. Academic & Career Infomation Center
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.
- Once assigned, make it a priority to schedule a meeting with your new academic advisor to discuss your academic goals.
- Use WINGS's "My Planner" (tutorial) and/or a Degree Planning Worksheet to plan for courses in your major and other degree requirements.
- You can also begin the process of looking at longer range goals such as career planning or graduate school
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 UWL.