Three Step Process…
It should first be noted that many college students change their majors at least once while in college, many changing several times. Whether you enter college decided on a major, or have no idea what you want to major in, stay open to new interests you may discover and different career paths that may come to light. During my freshman year of college, about half of the student body must have declared themselves Pre-Med majors but as the year went on and classes progressed, many of them discovered new subjects, some they didn’t even know previously existed; others realized the extent of schooling and courses required and decided their heart wasn’t in it. Whatever your situation, it’s important to find a major that feels right for you and matches your career goals. Here are some steps to help you decide on a major:
The first step is to think about your interests and write down a list of things you like to do, issues you’re committed to, extra-curricular activities you enjoy, courses that appeal to you and careers/ jobs that interest you. Career-related interests are helpful but you can also think about leisure activities you enjoy and they may end up shedding some light on a career field.
The second step is to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of things you’re good at, and things that don’t come as naturally. Include courses in high school that you did well in, as well as those that were challenging. You can also make a list of personal characteristics, such as whether you find it easy to talk to strangers. If you’ve had any previous jobs or volunteer work, you can think about what things you excelled at.
The third step in the process is thinking about what careers interest you and what you want from a job. Spend some time thinking about which majors lead to which careers and vice versa. You should also think about things you value from a career, such as working directly with people, flexibility, working in a team or independently, creativity or using specific skill sets. It’s also important to think about practical issues regarding the type of occupation including employment outlooks, job stability, educational requirements and salary expectations.
Once you’ve thought about each step and made notes, take some time to look over your lists and see if any patterns or overlaps occur. For example, if you love to read and work with kids, and one of your strengths is that you’re a good writer and communicator and a value you seek in an occupation is impacting young people, then maybe you want to major in English or Education to pursue a career in the Education field. Of course your list might not be so cut and dry or obvious, but hopefully working through these steps can get you closer to identifying possible major choices that you’ll enjoy and that will provide the knowledge and foundation you’ll need for your future career.
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