Choosing a major may be the most difficult and important decision a college student makes.
With college costs on the rise, students feel increased pressure to choose the right major and to
make every class count. Unfortunately, many college students don’t have the knowledge or
guidance to help them with this decision. A few key factors play a role in picking the right major. Read on for helpful tips on choosing a college major.
Know Your Personality
According to the MyersBriggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), there are sixteen different personality types. The four dichotomies include introversion vs.extroversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and perceiving. judging. Many career counselors use the MBTI® to help determine which careers are best for an individual.
If you don’t know your personality type, read more about the different types at Myersbriggs.org . Each personality has its strengths and weaknesses, and these should be considered when choosing a career path.
Take Note of Your Interests
Interests matter when it comes to career satisfaction. No matter how much money you make, a lack of interest in your career is sure to lead to problems at some point. Does this mean you have to pursue your passion as a career? Absolutely not! In fact, not everyone has a strong passion for a particular subject. You just need to have some level of interest in your work so that you remain motivated.
How do you identify your interests? Take career tests (preferably at your career center) and
think about the classes you’ve enjoyed. Also, read our article on career interest areas. Another great way to identify interests is to get work experience through part-time jobs and internships. You may happen upon a career path that you’ve never even considered.
Assess Your Values
Although many career tests focus on personality and interests, values shouldn’t be overlooked
during the career planning process. Values can help you determine the right career, and in turn,
the right major. Some common career-related values to consider: autonomy, security, altruism, and creativity expression. For more information, read assessing your career values.
Natural Skills and Abilities
If you struggled through math in school and couldn’t pass no matter how much you studied, you may want to consider a career that doesn’t require a great deal of mathematical ability. However, most degree programs include a variety of classes that may or may not relate to your future occupation. Don’t let this discourage you from pursuing the career you want. One difficult class shouldn’t derail your entire career dreams.
Checklist for Choosing a Major
- Determine your personality type(s). Make a list of careers that fit.
- Determine your career interest areas. Make a list of careers that fit.
- List your top career values. Beside each value, list careers high in that value.
- Think about your natural skills and abilities. What subjects do you excel at in school?
- List any other careers that you’re considering.
- Create a master list of all careers you’ve written.
- Cross out any careers that you’re certain you wouldn’t like.
- Start researching the remaining careers. What is the job outlook? What are the
qualifications required for entry? What college majors match these careers?
- Set up informational interviews with professionals working in the careers on your list?
What is a typical day like? What are the positives and negatives of the job?
- Try to job shadow workers in careers that seem promising.
- Make a list of college majors that match your career list.
- Start researching each major. What career opportunities are available for graduates with
each major? What kind of classes will you be taking?
- Choose the major that best matches your career goals, interests, values and personality.
- If you’re still not decided on one career, choose a double major or a flexible major that
will offer a variety of career opportunities (you can always change your major later).
The right major (and career) will fit your personality, values, interests and abilities. If you’re still struggling to decide on a major, speak to a career counselor at your school.
*Excerpts taken from The College Career Life Guide to Choosing a Major © 2017
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