Steps to Exploring
Choosing the right major can seem like an overwhelming process, but it doesn't have to be! We've created our Major Exploration Model (below) to help you along your journey. Following these steps will ensure that your major decision process includes the key factors important to making an informed and meaningful choice.
Most college students feel stressed about choosing a major and/or career. A lot of this anxiety comes from the fact that much of what you believe to be true about choosing a major/career…simply isn’t true. These myths and misinformation cause students to overthink their decision, which can lead to A LOT of unnecessary stress and a greater posibility of making the wrong choice.
We're here to provide FACTS, not opinions. Because you owe it to yourself to gather as much ACCURATE AND RELIABLE information as possible so that you can make a confident and informed decision!
Giving yourself permission to explore may seem simple, but it's arguably the most important! This is a MINDSET! If you're ultimately going to choose a major that's the right fit for you, you must give yourself permission to be open to exploring your options! This website provides some of the best major exploration tools and resources available, but even the best tools and resources won't be much help if you're not educated and open to exploring! For example, a pre-med student might use these tools to explore ONLY the majors they THINK will get them into med school (biology, chemistry, health science). However, what they might not know is that ANY major can get you into med school. So by limiting themselves to a handful of majors based on assumptions and misinformation, this student is missing out!
Once you've taken the time to get educated on the facts about majors and careers, you can begin to see that you have likely been provided limited or incorrect information about the ways your choice of major impacts your life after college. Hopefully, this helps you realize the importance of taking the opportunity to explore!
If you're still not convinced, feel free to connect with an Exploration Expert.
If you're ready to move forward, let's get to work!
Self knowledge is the foundation of any good decision! When your major choice is informed by your values, skills and interests, you are more likely to enjoy your major and be successful! The tools provided below are not only great for independent reflection, but can also be reviewed with an Exploration Expert.
Understanding Your Values
When making any important decision, it's essential to have an undersanding of what's important to you...AKA your values! It's a good idea to reflect on what matters most to you and how those values influence your choice in major and career. Utilize the Value Activity and Focus 2 under the "Self Exploration" section to help identify your core values!
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...it just means that you might need to work harder to get there! For example, let's say you're not highly skilled in math but you want to pursue a major with high math requirements. You just need a plan! 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 example, history might be a subject that comes easy to you but you have no interest in taking history courses at the college level. That's OK...we don't always have to pursue things just because we're good at them!
Consider Your Interests
Choosing a major in which you're genuinely interested will lead to your being more motivated and engaged...which will lead to better learning and skill development...which will lead to better grades and career oppotunities! We're not saying you have to be passionate about your major. While it would be amazing if you could find a major you're head-over-heels in love with...that's simply not realistic for everyone. However, as long as you're genuinely interested in the subject and material your major provides, you're in good shape!
Its not always easy to connect your interests to an academic or career path, but the Focus 2 tool in the "Self Exploration" section will help you identify your interests and connect them to specific academic and career pathways.
Southern has well over 150 majors and concentrations to choose from! While having so many options is a good thing...it can certainly be OVERWHELMING!
Ever seen the menu at the Cheesecake Factory? It's literally 20 pages long and contains 250 items! You have your eyes set on the Avocado Tacos until you see the Chili-Crunch Shrimp Pasta. Then you see the French Drip Cheeseburger and you think “that sounds good,” until you realize it’s Sunday and you can get Fried Chicken and Waffles! By the time the server arrives, you're saying, “can we get another minute?” By the time the server comes back with the bread, you try to buy another few seconds by saying to your friends, “y'all order...I’ll go last." But even after you’ve ordered the Baja Chicken Tacos, you’re still not quite sure that you shouldn’t have gone with the Santa Fe Salad...
Yeah...choosing a major can feel like that...
Luckily, Southern has simplified this process with the creation of the Major Elimination Tool. It's often easier to identify the subjects you DON'T want to study. This tools gives you the opportunity to remove majors in which you have no interest, allowing you to then focus only on programs that are real possibilities!
If you've completed steps 1-4 and have decided on a major, CONGRATS...you've done it!!!
You've either decided on which major to declare or confirmed that your current major is the right one for you! Either way, you've now made a well-informed and purposeful decision...and you won't be sorry you did!
If you need to declare or change your major, use the Selection of Degree Program form. 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.
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 your major has been determined, you can focus more on building a strong foundation for career success after you graduate. This step 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.