One of the biggest decisions any person may have is what to major in at college. Many students will shop around for majors – losing time and credits in the process. Other students will stick with a major, but later find out that the major they chose did not lead to a career that is satisfying.
You should think of the selection of a major as a deliberate process rather than just hop around from one major to another. Outlined below are the steps in a process that can work.
- Developing an interest profile – This step asks you to explore interests at a very fundamental level. Rather than ask for interests at a career level (e.g. music or business) the interest profile gets at personal experiences as key indicators (e.g. what do your pastimes tell you? What do your favorite courses tell you?).
- Uncovering your abilities and skills – This steps looks at skills you have already demonstrated and abilities that could evolve into skills. Skills/abilities in this case could refer to hands-on activities (e.g. drawing, making things, fixing things) or intellectual skills/abilities (e.g. planning, inspiring).
- Exploring the “ings” – This step involves looking at characterizations of career paths as a series of 23 ings (e.g. advising, making, managing, selling) and what you like/dislike about each of these.
- Narrowing career options – This step looks at narrowing down the more attractive ways along three dimensions: structure, leadership and rewards.
- Understanding the job market – This step involves looking at jobs that corresponds to the career options selected in step (4). Four characteristics are used in this analysis: the environment of the job, the demands of the job, the job outlook, and the earnings you can expect.
- Interviewing career role models – This step involves talking to those who are doing the job you are considering.
- Knowing what you can do with your major – This step identifies majors that can lead to the jobs you have identified as being of interest.
- Researching your major – This step involves an examination of the requirements of a major – especially how suited you are for the major.
- Choosing a major – This step is the final one. In this step, you evaluate all the majors you considered and pick the one that is best for you.
As you can see this is a very deliberate process. It takes time, but it can help you make the right choice the first time. If you don’t have a good idea of a major, you could end up wasting a lot of time and money finding the major that is right for you. .