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DON’T LET THE PRESSURE OF CHOOSING A COLLEGE MAJOR BECOME A MAJOR PAIN

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One of my favorite America’s Funniest Video scenes is of a five-year old boy who said, “I don’t want to grow up.” Most of us can relate to this boyish reluctance to take on adult responsibilities; but probably none as much as those approaching young adulthood in college.

Adolescence, as it is properly called, is a time marked by confusion. Quite a lot is going on during this stage of human development. Besides being confronted with physical, emotional and social changes, there is the dilemma of establishing an identity that is separate from your parents; and, sometimes, confronting one’s sexual and/or political orientation. Add to this the pangs of getting acclimated to a college campus, meeting new people, having tougher class assignments, on top of grueling syllabi in classes you could care less about; not to mention the pressure of choosing a major. Given these horrors, it’s easy to think about the five-year old on AFV or the musical, Stop the World – I Want To Get Off.

If you haven’t figured out what you want to do with the rest of your life, guess what: you’re not alone! Honestly, I applaud those who take the time to explore majors and careers before making a decision that, in all likelihood, may change. That might not be comforting, but here are a few facts that you may not have known:

  • Nearly one-third of students who enter college are declared undecided
  • Upwards of 60-70% of “declared” students change their major
  • A college major does not mean that will be your career. Research shows that only  50% of college graduates actually work in a career that is associated with their degree
  • Research shows that people change careers at a minimum of 3-5 times, so you are not choosing what you will do for the rest of your life

Facts are fine, but I know they do precious little in helping you solve the problem. Not to worry: here are a few steps that you can take in reducing the anxiety.

How to Choose Your Major

One of the very first things that students can do when undecided is to make an assessment of their interests, values and skills. The Career Development Center offers several Career Self Assessment Workshops throughout the year that are designed to assist your clarify interests, work values, and skills.

With this information, the second thing is to begin exploring majors and careers. Exploration may be in any number of ways, from looking at What Can I Do With a Major In…., talking with faculty and staff, Job Shadowing, or conducting informational interviews.

The third step is to narrow the vast amount of choices and choose a major. At the same time, begin gaining experience. Your involvement in student organizations, internships, and/or part-time jobs will significantly develop and enhance your leadership and soft skill-set. Also, (here we go again) research has shown that employers prefer to hire graduates who have completed internships or co-ops while in college a they bring relevant work experience to the table.

Lastly, it was James T. Burtchaell who said, “Pick your major on the pleasure principle, for what you most enjoy studying will draw your mind in the liveliest way to being educated.”

For more information, call or stop into the Career Development Center in Eder 202. We look forward to seeing you sooner, rather than later!

Donnell Turner

 

 

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