Thursday, April 19, 2012

Major Exploration

Most first year students are faced with the question, “So, what are you majoring in?” on a daily basis by friends, family, and campus faculty and administrators.  Some students think they have the answer, while others feel a mounting pressure to make a decision. 

Most students think this decision is enormous and will affect the rest of their lives.  Truth be told, your major does not and will not affect the rest of your life.  As the writer of this article, I can tell you that when I was a senior in high school, I was Editor in Chief of my school newspaper, and entered college thinking I was going to be a journalism major.  Within a few weeks of my first semester, I found myself absolutely engaged in my Psych 101 class, and promptly walked over to my advisement office and declared my major to psychology.  A few months later I switched to business because it was “practical” and then ultimately sophomore year after seeing a presidential election with wide-open eyes declared my major as public affairs. 

Today, I work at Hofstra University as a career counselor.  Anyone who was to hear about my dilemma over what to major in and then my career path, might think it makes no sense.  Yet, to me it makes complete sense and each decision along the way has been a stepping stone to the next.  Ultimately, I loved my major and to a certain extent I still love following politics and civil engagement but it did not determine the rest of my life. 

Yet, as a career counselor I understand the importance of a major and love assisting my students in their exploration.  For all incoming students both those who are “declared” and for those who are not, the best thing you can do is be open minded.  Here are a list of tips to get you started in your Major Exploration:

Tips for Exploring a College Major: 

Conduct a self-assessment: interests, values, skills, and personality-type.  This self-assessment process can be done at The Career Center or informally on your own.  A formal assessment will involve an assessment instrument, available The Hofstra Career
Center.  An informal assessment technique might include asking yourself the following questions:

What activities do I find fun and satisfying?
What do I do well? What am I good at?
What adjectives would I use to describe myself?
What’s really important to me in a career?
What kind of work environment would I feel most comfortable in?

Register for a variety of required core classes freshman year.  Expand your horizons!

Read Hofstra’s course offerings/on-line bulletin.  Simply asking yourself, does this sound interesting or not, is a great first step.
Develop organizational and study skills. Learn effective reading, writing and note-taking techniques —all portable skills.

Ask questions!  Talk to family, friends of family, and faculty about careers.  These are some of the people who know you best and may be able to make suggestions based on YOU!

Attend career-planning events on campus.  Explore our The Career Center website for information on careers and deciding on a major.

Determine what skills you have that are marketable, and draft your first resume to highlight those skills.

Obtain a part-time or summer position or internship to develop skills.

Join campus organizations to develop teamwork and leadership skills, and become an active member of the campus community.

 Have FUN with your exploration!

 ~ Suzanne Dagger, Director of Career Services

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