Are you uncertain or undecided about your major? You have lots of company. Many college students express they uncertainty making statement such as “I have no idea what I’m interested in”; “I used to know what I wanted to do, but now I’m not sure”; or “I like lots of things and I don’t know which to choose.” In this lesson we will offer your strategies to help you move toward resolving these uncertainties.
Most importantly, don’t worry! You will find your way to a field of study that suits you. And your college major does not necessarily define the rest of your life. The crucial purpose of a liberal education is to develop the core abilities of critical thinking, asking good questions, writing cogently and effectively, and having a broad knowledge of the world. Your major can help you cultivate these abilities, but once you have them, they will be transferable into new fields and situations.
Second, make sure that you choose something that fits you and what you love. Your family and best friend don’t have to sit through that psychology, physics or literature exam—you do. All their hopes and wishes for your future are not going to make you a good accountant, if accounting is not something that draws you. On the other hand, if you are set on a particular career, there are many ways in which you can prepare. Keep your goals in mind, but be flexible about how you get to that goal. Don’t focus too narrowly on one aim. Follow your passions and give yourself space. Choose the major that best fits your interests and academic abilities, but leave some room to play.
Here are some specific strategies to help you hone in on what makes sense for you:
1. Take courses that will help you work out what your major should be.
- If you have several interests and can’t decide between them, take introductory courses in each area and use those experiences to help you choose.
- If you really have no idea which way to go, take a range of courses that interest you. See what sticks!
2. Talk to lots of people.
- Ask other students what they are studying and why they like it. Listening to others talk about what is working for them may spark ideas for you.
- Talk with your academic advisor, or another faculty member. Faculty may be able to ask a clarifying question or suggest an approach that helps you find your way.
- Visit Career Services (122 Woodland Street, 2nd Floor). Make an appointment with one of the staff to talk about your interests, values, strengths and weaknesses. Or try one of their standardized interest inventories to help you clarify your interests. Learn how these correspond to various career paths.
- Visit the Academic Advising Center. The people there are willing to listen and help you assess your interests.
3. Learn more about possible career paths.
- The Career Resource Library (also at 122 Woodland Street, 2nd Floor) has a wealth of information on careers and majors. Their print and computer resources can give you an idea of career possibilities associated with each major. They can also provide specific job titles, certification information, advanced study requirements, and earnings and growth projections.
- Another way to learn how your choice of major can lead to a given career is to talk to people employed in various fields.Career Services maintains an Alumni Contact Database listing alumni who are willing to serve as career contacts to Clark students. Career Services can help you begin the process of networking which will ultimately land you an internship or a job.
4. Take a chance on something out of the box.
You may find that a field your had never considered (like Geographic Information Science, Painting, or Asian Studies) is exactly what you wanted to pursue
5. Consider a student-designed major.
If your interests just don’t seem to fit within a particular Clark major, then a student-designed major may be the best way to resolve your dilemma. For information on how to design your own major, contact Associate Dean of the College, Kevin McKenna (x7468).
As you are considering possible majors, remember to pay attention to the number of courses these majors require, and the order in which you need to take required courses. Some majors need to be started right away and others can be entered later. You need to consider these factors as well.
Selecting your eventual major is one of the important decisions you will make in college. But it does not have to be a painful process. Know the resources that are available to you and take advantage of them!