Major & Career Exploration
Choosing Your Major
A question frequently asked by undeclared students is what to major in and “What can I do with a major in this? Click What Can I Do with This Major? to learn more about your major.
You may find it helpful to explore career fields related to your major. SIGI3 and the Georgia Career Information System (GCIS) are two career assessment and exploration applications that can give you the facts
about the careers you are considering.
Why you don't know what to do with a major in ….
Most of you are attending college because you believe it will lead you to better employment. Your journey to better employment via a college degree is a journey of many choices including choice of college, choice of major, and choice of courses.
Notice that none of these choices mentions the word “career.” Since careers are related to employment, simple logic suggests that if you are attending college to obtain better employment, there should be a relationship between majors and careers. While it’s true that some majors, such as education, accounting or nursing, do relate to specific careers, most majors do not. In fact, the majority of majors will actually help prepare you for many career possibilities.
What’s a major for?
Majors are part of the process that leads to earning a degree. They are designed for academic purposes rather than for career purposes. This is why the link between many majors and specific career fields is often unclear.
Once you recognize this, you can begin asking questions that do have clear answers.
Which comes first—major or career? Does it matter?
Begin by identifying your specific decision-making goal. Different students prefer different starting points, and different starting points will suggest different questions. Where do you wish to begin? Do you want to choose a major first and identify career possibilities later, or choose a few career options and then identify possible majors that can help you get there?
- You’re already an expert decision maker, but may not be aware of it: Think of an important decision you have made recently, such as deciding on a specific college or making a significant purchase. The steps to making a major decision follow a basic decision-making/problem-solving process that you have used many times.
- It’s a good investment of your time: If you want the decision-making process to yield meaningful results, you must be willing to invest some time, thought, and effort. It’s like a treasure hunt. You collect clues, in this case information, then piece together the clues to form a map to guide you on your journey toward an appropriate major and meaningful career.
- Your Career Center can help you: Career advisors can help you identify both major and career options that suit your specific desires, needs, and goals and offer you the possibility of career satisfaction. One way they do this is by showing you how to use a four-step decision-making process. Call 706-737-1604 and schedule an appointment.
Steps to a major decision
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 way to reach them will become. Asking yourself the following questions will give you some important clues:
- What do you truly enjoy? Consider the classes and activities that you have liked the best. What did they involve? Why did 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?
- 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 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 the ASU Counseling Center and take the Myers Briggs and Self Directed Search Assessments for free. These can help you discover more about yourself and direct you to careers that are a good fit for you. Call the Counseling Center at 706-737-1471 and schedule an assessment appointment today!
Step 2: Gather information and explore options
- Examine the majors available to you in your school’s catalog at www.aug.edu. Make a list of your options 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 department’s web pages, or read print materials they offer. Talk with an academic advisor, students currently in these majors, and faculty members.
- Visit your career center’s resource center. What is available? Does the career center offer a workshop in choosing a major? Talk with the career advisor who works with undecided majors or the career advisor for a specific major that you are considering. The more information you find, the more informed your final decision will be.
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. If you haven’t already, narrow your list down to two or three majors.
- Consider the feasibility of a second major or making one of your options your minor.
- If you are still having difficulty deciding, talk with an advisor who can help you evaluate the information you have collected, suggest additional resources, and guide you through the decision-making process.
Step 4: Take action
- Sample courses in the majors you are considering.
- 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 by conducting an informational interview. Ask them about their major and how it helped them. Consider also contacting alumni as this can be an excellent resource for learning more about the realities of specific career fields.
- Go for it! Declare your major.
Your journey begins
Your journey to better employment via a college degree is a journey of many choices. These steps for making a major decision offer you a map for an important part of this journey.
Many factors can get in the way of your being able to make a major or career choice.
Some of the most common are listed below.
External factors are not personal and are easier to manage than internal factors.
- Unrelatedness of majors and careers: Understanding that majors and careers have developed independently of each other will help you avoid becoming stuck wondering what you can do with a particular major.
- Lack of information: Often you just don’t have enough information to be comfortable making a decision. You have had very little opportunity up to this point to learn about different majors and careers. Your career center is an excellent place to begin. If you’re more independent-minded, begin researching on your own.
- Too much information: This is particularly true since the advent of the World Wide Web. A huge amount of information is available, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Don’t give up: You can learn how to quickly and efficiently find good, accurate information on the web, and your career center can help.
Internal factors are more personal. Sometimes, these concerns must be addressed before the decision-making process can be completed.
- Lack of self-confidence: If your choice of a major or career seems especially critical, you may not feel confident in your ability to make a good decision. Often, obtaining additional information can solve this problem. Other times, more counseling may be needed.
- Fear/anxiety: While a little anxiety is positive and can help you stay on your toes, too much can wear you down. Fearing that you will make “bad” decisions can paralyze you. A career counselor can help you separate your rational from irrational fears.
- Conflicting values: You may be considering paths that are not compatible with each other. Perhaps you want to earn a good salary but also want to work in the not-for-profit sector. Or perhaps you would love to work as a performer, but also need job security. Doing some values clarification work may help you here.
- Conflict with others: Parents, spouses, and significant others often have definite ideas about your career choice. Desiring to please others and the need for continued financial support are two ways significant others can put undue pressure on you. A career advisor may be able to help you identify ways to deal with this.
- Multipotentiality: If you have many interests and many abilities, your problem may be one of narrowing down options rather than creating them. Once again, a career advisor can help you find appropriate criteria for narrowing down your options.
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