Helpful Tips to Choosing a Major
Step 1: Assess Yourself
Your first step is to do some self-assessment. The more you understand yourself, the clearer your life goals and the ways to reach them will become. Asking yourself the following questions will give you some important clues:
- What do you truly enjoy? Consider the classes, subjects, and activities that you have liked the best. What did they involve? Why did you enjoy them? Consider what you enjoy reading, talking about, or studying. Why do you enjoy them? There are careers related to every interest you have!
- What are you good at? Identify your skills and abilities. What types of things do you seem to do well? Are they technical, adventurous, intellectual, involve helping or influencing others, etc.?
- What is really important to you? Is enjoying your work more important than prestige? Is creativity more important than security? You want your choice to be compatible with your values.
- What are your motivations? Why might you be considering a particular major and/or career? Are outside influences such as family, friends or your perception of the job market shaping your decisions?
- What is the coolest job you can imagine? Describe it as specifically as you can. Try to locate and contact one or two people in this area and ask them how they got there.
- Visit with a career counselor in Career Services and consider a career assessment to help identify your interests, values, strengths, dislikes, abilities, skills and personal qualities.
Step 2: Gather Information and Explore Options
Examine the majors available at STAC. Use the STAC Undergraduate Catalog and make a list of those majors that interest you and eliminate those that don’t interest you. Read about the majors remaining on your list.
Mark the courses in each major that most interest you, match your abilities, and share your values. This should help you further shorten your list.
Review additional information about the majors on your short list. Visit each academic department's web page and read/print materials they offer. Ask the department if they offer an email listserv that you can join.
Discuss your possible majors with a variety of individuals, including departmental
advisors, faculty, instructors and students currently in the major. Utilize Career Service's Alumni Career Network to discuss majors and career fields with STAC Alumni.
Gain some experience in the majors you are considering by attending informational program meetings, getting involved with departmental activities and services, and joining student organizations and academic clubs.
Visit Career Services and check out the Career Resource Library. Take a particular look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook (http://www.bls.gov/oco/), and the "Great Jobs for ... Majors" series of books.
Talk with your academic advisor and plan an academic schedule that keeps your options open while you are exploring. Discuss taking introductory courses in the majors that you are considering and consider shadowing upper level courses for additional information. You can also learn valuable information by glancing through required textbooks and reading course syllabi of classes required for a major.
Step 3: Evaluate and Make Your Major Decision
It's time to put together the information you have collected. Consider what you have learned. Weigh the pros and cons of each option. Be sure that the major(s) you are considering fit with your academic strengths and abilities. If you haven’t already, narrow your list down to two or three majors.
Consider the feasibility of a second major, choosing an alternative major, or making one of your options your minor. Or look at an interdisciplinary major or minor.
Talk with an academic advisor and a career counselor who can help you to evaluate the information you have collected, suggest additional resources, and guide you through the decision making process.
Step 4: Take Action
Remember that you cannot expect that the right major will just come to you or fall into your lap. Choosing a major requires your active participation. You must be proactive!
If you haven’t already done so, sample courses in the majors you are considering. Remember to shadow upper level courses for additional information.
Meet with an academic advisor and discuss what specific prerequisites and other
admission criteria are required for admittance into the major. (A prerequisite is a course which must be satisfactorily completed before another course can be registered.) Discover if there is a Grade Point Average (GPA) requirement for admission.
Learn what the admissions process is. Discuss when you are ready to apply to the major. Determine if there are internship or practicum requirements. How about research opportunities?
Choose student activities, internships, volunteer work, and/or part time employment that can help you further develop your skills in areas that interest you.
Talk to people who work in the career fields you are considering. Ask them about their major and how it helped them. Use the AskanAlum career mentoring program through Career Services, which can be an excellent resource for learning more about the realities of specific career fields.
Step 5: GO FOR IT! APPLY FOR YOUR MAJOR!
Immediately visit the department and inquire about applying to the major.
Once you have selected a major, remember to meet with your departmental advisor for advisement at least once a semester until you graduate.
For additional information and assistance please contact the
Office of Career Services at 845.398.4065