Choosing the right major can seem like an overwhelming process, but it doesn't have to be. Following these simple steps will ensure that your major decision process includes the key factors important to making an informed choice.
Do you need to know your future job BEFORE choosing the right major? Does changing your major always setback your graduate date? Does major choice determine or limit future job or grad school options? You might be surprised to learn that the answer to all of these questions is no. There is a lot of misinformation out there about majors, so continue to our comprehensive page where you can learn the facts about majors.
Giving yourself permission to explore is the most simple step, but arguably the most important. This step is often the natural outcome of learning the facts about majors. Once you know the facts, you can begin to see that you have likely been provided limited or incorrect information about the ways that major impacts your career in the future, grad school options and academic success. If you are reading this, it is likely that you have already achieved the step of giving yourself permission to explore. Congratulations on taking this important step! Continue through the remaining steps to ensure you know all your options and consider the relevant factors of an informed major decision.
Self knowledge is the foundation of any good decision. When major choice is informed by your values, skills and interests you are more likely to enjoy your major and achieve academic success. The activities provided below are not only great tools for independent reflection, but can also be reviewed with an advising specialist by scheduling an appointment in the Academic Advising Center that is most related to your major areas of interest.
Understanding Your Values
Reflect on what matters most to you and how those values influence the academic path you want. If you aren't sure what your core values are, this brief activity can help you identify them.
Take Inventory of Your Skills and Weaknesses
Your skills and weaknesses do not need to dictate your major choice, but they should inform the decision. Skills can be learned, so having a weakness in a certain area does not mean you have to avoid majors that require that skill as long as you have a strong plan. As an example, a student who is not highly skilled in math, but wants to pursue a major with high math requirements should make a plan to strengthen that skill. The plan could include tactics like attending tutoring regularly, forming study groups, and reserving extra study time for math classes. In the same way you can choose a major that requires you to develop a new skill, you can also avoid majors that are aligned with a strength you already have. For instance, a student might have their highest high school grades in History and find that subject comes easy to them, but have no interest in taking history courses at the college level. Use the resources below to help identify your skills and connect those skills to specific career or academic pathways.
This free personality test generates a personality type and personalized report based on how you answer questions.
The Office of Career and Professional Development at SCSU offers the Focus 2 Career tool free of charge to SCSU students. This tools has a skills assessment that identifies your skills and connects to your skills to potential career/major options.
Consider Your Interests
In most cases, choosing a major based on what interests you increases motivation in classes, leads to better academic outcomes and an improved college experience. Despite the benefits of being interested in your major, there are times when a student might choose to pursue a major for other reasons than interest in the subject. As an example, a student might choose to be a computer science major not because the subject is highly interesting to them, but because the major leads to being a software engineer. They envision this will lead to many opportunities to work remotely, something that they really want. Some people are able to push through subjects that do not interest them and others need some level of interest to persevere. Its important for you to determine how important interest in a subject is to you and your success.
Its not always easy to connect your interests to an academic or career path, but The Office of Career and Professional Development at SCSU offers the Focus 2 Career tool free of charge to SCSU students. Among other things, this tool will help you identify your interests and connect them to specific academic and career pathways.
SCSU has well over 100 academic programs for undergraduate students with requirements can be viewed in the university catalogue. With so many options, it can be challenging to make sense of them all. SCSU has made this process simple with the creation of the Major Exploration Tool. This tool is your individualized portal to research each major and cross majors of your list. All the work is saved as you go, so you can start the process and come back to it any time. If you complete this tool by following the Major Exploration Tool instructions, you will be guaranteed a short list of majors that actually interest you.
Once you have the short list of 2-4 majors of interest, you can try out these additional strategies to learn even more about the majors.
Schedule an appointment with an advising specialist in the academic advising center that has the majors you are interested in learning more about.
Contact a faculty member in the academic departments that interest you to explain your interest and ask specific questions. Each academic department website has their contact information. If you are having trouble finding contact information, you can email Morgan Cottrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research employment information about your major of interest by using the keyword search on the ONET. All the information on that site is based on up-to-date labor statistics collected by the US Department of Labor.
Some majors have student organizations associated with them. You can look up student organizations in OWLConnect@SCSU and find general meeting times for the related group or contact any of the board members to get the peer perspective about the major.
Use your degree evaluation in Banner Student to do a What If Analysis. This shows you how all the courses you have already taken fit into a new major and it shows you what your requirements would look like if you were to change your major.
If you have already completed steps 1-4 of exploring majors and you have decided on a major, Congratulations! Now it's time to declare your major by filling out the Selection of Degree Program. It can take up to 2-3 weeks to have your request reviewed by departments. When a decision is made you will be notified via email. While you wait for the change to finalize you can see what your new requirements will be by doing a What If Analysis on your degree evaluation in Banner Student app in MYSCSU.
Exploration doesn't stop after declaring a major. Now it's time to explore WITHIN your major and beyond. One way to do this is by getting more involved in your academic department, considering internships/research opportunities and joining organizations connected with your major. Now that you have your academic major clarified, you can focus more on building a strong foundation for career success after you graduate. This steps looks different for each student and may include considering part time jobs that relate to potential careers of interest, learning more about career pathways in areas of interest, building professional contacts through networking and so much more. The Office of Career and Professional Development has a wide array of resources and staff who can help you with this important step in your growth.