We realize that choosing a major can be a daunting experience. It is our hope that the information we discuss with you on this webpage will make that process easier for you, and that you will be better able to use the many resources available to you as you prepare for your next career. As you consider your career goals, the following hints may be helpful.
Success in a major depends on a combination of interests, skills and aptitudes. If you choose a major only because of its job possibilities while failing to look at your own interests, skills, and aptitudes, you could be heading for trouble. So before you decide, you need to learn all you can about the requirements demanded by your proposed major. If the major doesn’t satisfy your interests and fit with your aptitudes, you may find it necessary to change major or career anyway.
Understandably, most college students desire economic security and mobility. Many, unfortunately, see college only as a vehicle for gaining economic security and mobility. Thus, they try to choose majors and a career on the basis of current job opportunities. This may be a mistake for two reasons: you may be dissatisfied with the career choice once you have entered into it, and in a fast changing society, today’s job market may change substantially in the next four or five years. Therefore, you would be better off choosing a major and career that suits and, in fact, reflects you as a person.
The only things you can really count on in the future are change and a continued knowledge explosion. Some futurists have estimated that today’s college students will be in five to seven different careers during their lifetime, or become virtually unemployable because their knowledge and skills will become obsolete. To remain viable and employable, people need to develop flexibility and adaptability. They need to learn how to learn and change in what must be considered an uncertain future.
An obsession with the future can lead to needless anxiety. Practical and creative planning both alleviated this anxiety and helps you to sustain your motivation. Once you have found a major that suits your interests and aptitudes, make it’s requirements and flexibility work for you. Take a good look at your major and see if you can use statistics, computer science, accounting, economics, advanced composition, management, speech or other technical and applied courses to meet requirements for the major; knowledge and skills in these areas may make you a more marketable job hunter later on.
Most professions and some jobs demand advanced schooling beyond the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Check into these requirements and make plans for fulfilling them.
In some cases, you will find that a job or profession requires a particular undergraduate degree. In many cases, graduate and professional schools expect you to take particular courses and excel on entrance examinations. You can accommodate your interests if you are aware of the requirements of both your major and your desired profession/career. In fact, more professions and graduate schools are impressed by applicants with diversified backgrounds where requirements have been used in a creative and purposeful manner.
For some jobs, employers do not require a degree in any particular major. However, even in these cases, employers respond favorably to applicants who have built analytical skills, pursued academic interests, and learned to communicate effectively.
Dedication, enthusiasm, and self’discipline impress both prospective employers and admissions officers. Employers and admissions offices use grades as an indication of what you have learned, your dedication, enthusiasm, and self–discipline. Choosing a program of study interesting to you usually means that you will be more dedicated, have more enthusiasm, be more likely to discipline yourself, and, as a result, earn higher grades.
Jobs and volunteer experiences will impress both employers and admissions officers. Use your free time wisely by obtaining employment and joining extracurricular activities relating either directly or indirectly to your areas of interest. These practical experiences will test your motivation and continued interest, augment your classroom learning, and allow you to apply your knowledge to real problems. The Cooperative Education program, or Internships available through your academic department, are a great place to start gaining that practical experience.