Selecting a Major
FAQ by Category
will I know if I've chosen the right major?
A great question,
and one worth thinking about, whether or not you
have already chosen your major or career field.
Many people just sort of "fall into" a
major or career without giving it a lot of thought.
Many people discover after several years that they
are not happy with their choice, but feel "stuck" with
One way to be more certain of your decisions is to really explore your
own interests, values, and skills in relation to the world of academia
and work. Career counselors and major exploration professionals ask questions
like, "What are you interested in?" (interests), and "What
are you good at?" (skills), and "What is important to you?" (values).
They then help you find majors and careers that fit for you.
I have to select a major when I enter college?
No, many students
will begin college without knowing a major. And,
of those students who have chosen a major, many
will change it at least once before they graduate.
Your freshman year is really a time of exploration;
try to take a variety of classes that seem interesting
to you. As your interests become clearer to you,
choosing a major will become easier and less confusing.
do I know which major will be good for me?
As a general rule,
the best major is one that interests you and challenges
you. Ideally, you will enjoy the classes in your
major. There is no one "right" major.
Many students are concerned about how major choice
relates to potential career fields. There are a
variety of resources to help you with decisions
about your major and career interests.
I major in a "hot" field so I know I
can get a good job after I graduate?
No, it is better
to major in an academic field that interests you
rather than trying to make yourself adapt to a
growing career field. The job market changes frequently;
the "hot" fields today may not be the "hot
fields" five years from now. Labor market
trends do matter when making career choices, but
it is better to consider trends after you have
narrowed your own interest areas. In other words,
don't begin your career decision-making process
with what's available, begin with what you would
you enjoy doing. Also, it is very difficult to
predict that any degree of accuracy just what the
job market will actually be like in the next five
is expensive. Can someone tell me what to major
in so I know that I can get a good job after I
College is expensive
and most students want some type of assurance they
will be employable after graduation. A college
degree does not guarantee there will be a good
job waiting for you upon graduation. It does however
provide you with opportunities. A degree will open
doors for you that would not otherwise be open.
On average, people with college degrees usually
earn more money over their lifetime and usually
experience less unemployment. But your major does
not determine your success in the job market. Your
success is determined by you and what you put into
your college education and how you build your skills
both inside and outside the classroom.
my major going to determine my success in the job
Many career fields
that do not require a specific major will be open
to you after completion of your bachelor's degree.
Certainly there are some career fields that require
specific fields of study as preparation. For example,
if you want to be a mechanical engineer, you will
need a degree in mechanical engineering; if you
want to be an elementary teacher you will need
graduate education coursework qualifying you for
a license. But there are many career fields where
the relationship between your major and career
field is not as direct.
I be able to get a good job with a degree in the
Yes, as stated above
many careers do not require a specific field of
study. Employers do not normally list jobs with
a requirement for a B.A. in English or B.S. in
History but rather employers seek individuals with
a set of skills or experiences. Among the most
common skills employers seek when hiring new graduates
are: communication skills (oral, written, and computer),
critical thinking skills (analyzing information,
solving problems), interpersonal skills (teamwork
and/or leadership experience), strong work ethic,
and most importantly ó an ability and commitment
to lifelong learning. All majors can develop these
skills. However, this is not to say that there
will be a job waiting for you upon graduation.
Employers also want relevant work experience to
complement your academic studies. Students who
have invested some time in the career decision
making process and prepared themselves by gaining
real world work experience can be successful in
the job search process.
should I know before I choose a major?
Yes, a variety of
people help you choose your major or career field.
The Career Centers are good places to begin exploring
your skills and interests and to research career
fields. If you have some ideas about majors that
may be of interest to you, read the course descriptions
in the catalog and talk with the faculty in those
my choice of major now determine what I'll be doing
for the next 20-30 years?
Yes, Probably not.
As noted above, there are some career fields that
do require a specific major. These tend to be primarily
engineering fields, health care, education, and some areas of business.
But there are many careers for which companies are willing to hire and
train new college graduates. Additionally, the longer you are in the
job market, the less important your major becomes. The skills you acquire
as you are working will be far more important in determining your career
path. In today's job market you can expect to have several career changes.
will want your college education to give you a strong base on which to
build the skills which will enable you to continue to grow and learn
can I find out more about what careers my major
will prepare me for?
still clueless. Can you help?
Here are 10 tips
for picking your major
and get advice: Talk
to other students, advisors and counselors,
professors, deans and other administrators/staff
about their opinions and experiences regarding
the various departments that interest you.
Ask Career Center staff about whether your
career plans would be helped by choosing
a particular major.
Find out what
the requirements are: Do
you think you can handle the course requirements
for a specific major (i.e. science labs,
math or other requirements)
courses in different fields of study (could
be intro class or another, more advanced class).
clubs to which you belong: Is
there a major that coincides with your activities
the Campus Life websites: See
if there are other campus activities that
will help you explore possible careers.
Pick a major
that interests you: The
major you choose will neither predict nor
guarantee your future, so it is not essential
to pick a major based on what you think you
want to do with your life after you graduate.
Look at your grades: Although
grades arenít everything, many people equate
grade performance with aptitude. If you have
excelled in certain classes, then that may
be an appropriate major for you. Donít automatically
rule out a major due to one or two tough classes
where your grade was not as high as you wished,
but do consider whether or not you feel comfortable
with and/or interested in the course material.
Attend programs: Attend
events and programs offered by the career centers
and academic departments. This will allow
you to meet faculty, counselors, and fellow
students who may be interested in the same
major, as well as allow you to learn more about
Get experience: Involvement
in an internship or part time job may assist
you in finding a direction and help you choose
a major that fits you.
Or check out the
to Pick a Major Tutorial