Friday, September 5, 2014

Tips to Finding Your True Path!

This past weekend, I chaperoned an Explore Next Door Trip as part of Move-In Weekend.  Before boarding the bus I asked the 20 first-year students in attendance to introduce themselves to one another and share their majors.  Out of the 20, only one stated that they were undecided.  Boy, was I was surprised that there was only one undecided student! 

Many would think that this was terrific.  In other words, how wonderful it is to have such focused students who know exactly what they want to study!  But wait, maybe it was wrong of me to ask the question the way I did.  Should I have asked them to share their career interests?  Or what their plans are for after graduation?  Or how confident are they that they chose the right major?  I assume these questions may have produced different results. 

Many students entering college choose majors based on:
  • What their parents or families want
  • What careers are “popular” especially those they see in the media
  • What subjects they were good at during high school
  • What their college roommate or friends are studying
  • What seems “practical” 

Another thought I had was just because a student may be interested in studying a topic does not indicate that this topic has to be their major.  Or just because a student chooses a certain major, it may not indicate what they want to do after graduation.

So, now that I have rambled on a bit, where does this lead us? Exploration!  As a first year student there is so much to experience.  Perhaps, we as a society unintentionally put way too much pressure on first year students to have a major on their first day of college.  Do not let others or the media drive your choice of major.  Remember, there is no rush to declare a major right away.  Here are some exploration tips during your first year.

  1. Take a variety of classes and ask questions.
  2. Read course descriptions and determine which classes sound interesting.  Is there a pattern?
  3. Attend campus lectures and special events.  Listen and learn!
  4. Join a club of interest and maybe one just to have fun and meet new people.
  5. All faculty members need to take part in research.  Find out what your faculty members are researching and ask them some questions about the topic.
  6. Come to The Career Center, talk with one of our friendly counselors and take an assessment.  We can help you identify how your skills, interests, and values lead to certain careers and majors!
  7. Make use of online career exploration resources like “What Can I Do With This Major?” to get listings of majors and typical careers.
  8. Use sites like the Occupational Outlook Handbook, ONet or (located under MyApps on the Portal) to explore careers and related majors.
  9. Talk to family and friends.  These are the people who know you best!
  10.  Meet with an Academic Advisor to review the requirements for majors and clarify which majors are not only of interest to you but that you believe you will excel in.  

Suzanne Dagger, Director of Career Services

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