It’s OK to Explore Majors!

confused person“I was certain I wanted to study International Relations, but now I realize that it’s just not for me. The problem is, now I don’t know what I want to do.” As the semester progresses, many students are looking up from their texts and realizing they do not want to pursue the path they had chosen.  Other students entered college with an eye to exploring majors. In either situation, it is critical for the student to know that being curious and open about their major is totally OK; after all, more than 60% of college students nationwide change their major at least once!   At AU, we are committed to help our students to find a major that is fulfilling and will lead to a great career.

Many people are fixated on the idea that MAJOR=CAREER. In fact, this is not true. Look at your own circle of friends and family: how many college grads do you know who are working in exactly the field they majored in? True, engineers, teachers, and accountants have that one-to-one relationship- but even today not all engineering grads are working as engineers.  So, as you start to explore, divest yourself of the idea that there must be a crystal clear connection between a career title and your major. Then engage in some self-exploration, learn about yourself and what motivates you, and find those majors that fit.

The Career Center has specific tools to help. Sit down with your Career Advisor to review assessments and learn about your personality through the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or your interests through the Strong Interest Inventory.  Talk about what motivates you—serving others? Solving complex problems? Earning a substantial salary? What are you particularly good at, what do you like to do? All of these factors play a role in how we choose a major and the careers that can follow.

A new tool is available to begin exploring some of these ideas on your own. Try the ACTProfile. This free tool looks at your values and interests, and creates major and career maps for you. It even provides good resources for researching majors and careers that fit your profile.

There are a number of events sponsored by CAS that can help the exploring freshman or sophomore student decide upon a major: check out “Exploratory Week” during the week of Sept. 22. Workshops include “Major Does NOT Equal Career”, and “Follow your GPS (Guiding, Personal, Success),” a well as workshops on specific majors.

In the spring semester, the Career Center will be teaching a one-credit course targeted exclusively for exploring freshmen and sophomores- “Career Exploration and Development”, course UGST 100. Look for it when you register for classes!

Take advantage of the resources offered by your academic advisors and the Career Center. By taking the time now to engage in self-exploration and research majors and careers, you’ll be able to make a “major decision” and be able to graduate on schedule.