TIPS FOR CHOOSING A MAJOR
How do you know which major is right for you? English or Economics? Physics or Philosophy? Computer Science or Political Science? Here are some tips to help you find the perfect major for your interests and goals.
Major ≠ Career. Your major doesn't have to "lead" to a career. You might find yourself getting more from your college experience by doing what you love and doing it well. Your degree will be valuable to employers no matter what your major. And, despite what you may think, it’s unlikely that your choice of major will make or break your career. Many employers do most of their own job training and seek college graduates simply because they know such applicants are teachable. Furthermore, medical schools, law schools and many other graduate programs frequently do not require certain majors so long as the applicant has taken the necessary courses. And since only 50-70% of college graduates get a job closely related to their major, the big decision doesn't seem quite so stressful. The people who make the biggest difference in the world are the people who love what they do.
Define your goals and passions. It's good to think about what's really important to you. What do you want from life? Pick something not because of money or prestige alone, but because you love it. If you do what you love, then you will be willing to work far harder than others in the field.
Take stock of your interests. What are your hobbies? What sorts of activities do you enjoy doing and what activities do you think you'd like to do? You can assess your interests yourself or take an assessment to help you identify what sort of work you might like. Sewanee’s Career & Leadership Development office offers three assessments:
• The StrengthsQuest assessment reveals your top five natural strengths/talents
• The Strong Interest Inventory uses your primary interests to suggest some career fields for you to consider
• The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator helps you better understand your personality type and preferences so that you can pick a major that is a good fit
These assessments are available at no cost to Sewanee students. To request one or more assessments, please email email@example.com. The assessments are taken online and take about 30-40 minutes each to complete. After completion, please make an appointment with a Career & Leadership advisor (x1121) to go over your results and to learn how to apply them. They could help you pinpoint a major, as well as a career path.
Examine your dream job. College is a good time to assess your dream jobs and decide if you really want to live those dreams. Look up your selected occupations in the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook (http://www.bls.gov/OCO/.) This resource provides up-to-date information on salaries, work environments and employment outlook for hundreds of jobs. If, after your research, you still want to pursue your dream job, the Handbook also details what sort of training you will need--you could pick your major based on that.
Explore your options. Try reading the major requirements and course descriptions in the catalog. If you are having a hard time deciding between 2-3 majors, try circling all the classes within each major that deeply interest you; this could indicate what is most interesting to you. It's okay if you still can't figure out what you want to be "when you grow up." Sewanee’s liberal arts curriculum encourages you to sample a variety of disciplines. In so doing, you may find a class that will spark a passion you didn't even know you had. Check out “What can I do with a major in…?( http://www.myplan.com/majors/what_to_do.php) for more information about connecting majors with possible careers.
Get help. Sewanee’s academic advisors and Career & Leadership Development offer a treasure trove of resources--from books and assessment tests to the advisors themselves--that many students never even use. If you're having trouble choosing a major, gather several perspectives by talking with an advisor and others.
YOU decide. Only you should decide what your major should be. It's good to get advice from as many people as possible, but when push comes to shove, it's your life. Take control and do what is best for you.
Reflect now. Don't put off your decision until the last minute. You can avoid a lot of the stress of choosing a major by exploring your options in advance.