Choosing a major is often one of the most daunting challenges a college student faces. Many students remain undeclared until well into their sophomore year and many upperclassmen second-guess their chosen areas of study, unsure of where it will lead them after graduation.
“It’s a faux pas that you have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life right from day one,” career counselor Heather DiFino said. “Understanding your interests takes time, self-assessment and research, along with the knowledge of what to do to guide yourself through the process.”
Students do not always realize that there is a resource at their fingertips, ready to help with academic decisions like picking majors. The career counselors in the Office of Career Development encourage students’ questions and try to help them in any way possible. Even just visiting the office’s website can prove helpful—it supplies students with information about various majors as well as links to outside resources.
When students take advantage of career development services, they are met with many options for self-investigation. “One of the most helpful [services] is individual career counseling—so we can guide students toward areas of study related to what they’re sharing with us about themselves,” DiFino said. “We want to use our skills to guide them and direct them in research, and give them opportunities to explore their interests.”
In addition to its innovative counseling style, the Office of Career Development provides students with useful tools for research in order to find a field that incorporates both their passions and their academic interests. Career assessments that are similar to personality tests are available—they provide results determining and explaining which subjects of study and career paths a student may be most content in pursuing. DiFino explained, “Sometimes a career assessment can be helpful to narrow things down and bring up ideas a student hadn’t previously thought of.”
DiFino also mentioned that a good back-to-basics way for students to broaden their knowledge of scholarly focuses is to take some time to examine relevant books, journals, magazines, and the like. “We have a library of books that students can peruse,” she said. “Things like that can be really helpful for students to just open up their minds.”
The Office of Career Development stresses that it’s normal for students to feel anxiety about deciding on a major. In a PowerPoint made for parents of incoming freshmen, the office stated, “Two thirds of people change their majors.” Underclassmen should not feel as though their first choice of major is the end-all-be-all. It’s normal if they discover they are not as interested in the topic as they previously thought.
Likewise, upperclassmen should not feel that just because they are committed to a particular undergraduate degree, they must continue on a straight line in their studies after graduation. While a bachelor’s degree serves as a foundation, students can build onto it however they would like in graduate school. A business major could choose to go to law school rather than getting an MBA. Biology majors who decide against their original plans of going to medical school could find that the development of prosthetics is more rewarding.
“There are ways you can incorporate your interests and talents together rather than seeing them as two separate things,” DiFino said. “We’re here to help. We’ve got plenty of resources so you don’t have to do it alone.”