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How to Choose a College Major and Develop a Career Plan

How to Choose a College Major and Develop a Career Plan

The college major you choose doesn't necessarily set the course for the rest of your life; it's merely a starting point in choosing a career. What's important is following your career interests and discovering what you love to do. As students develop a career plan it can be hard to get started. Choosing a career direction should begin early. An important first step can be selecting a major. As you work through the many issues, you will need personal information about you and your interests.


Use the Right Tools to Choose a College Major

Some basic steps that a person can take in choosing a college major include:

Step 1 in Choosing a Major:

Consider which courses you've done well in previously and decide which college major they have prepared you for.

Step 2 in Choosing a Major:

Consider the requirements for your college major - does this career field require graduate studies and more than a four year degree? Is this something you are willing to invest in (both time and money)? Many professional fields (medicine, law, engineering, architecture) require more than a four-year college degree for employment in these fields. Choosing a major in a field that requires more of a college commitment than you are willing to invest in probably should be avoided.

Step 3 in Choosing a Major:

Investigate the quality of the professors and courses. Look at the list of a potential major's department courses to see if they interest you, and take one of the "100" level courses in this department. Also ask students who are majoring in these subjects if they are satisfied with their college major and their professors.

Step 4 in Choosing a Major:

Do internships! This is a "hands-on" way to get a feel for the kinds of jobs you could get with your potential college major.

Step 5 in Choosing a Major:

Look at the different work fields to which your college major can lead to. Try choosing a major that will offer flexibility when you are looking for a job.

Step 6 in Choosing a Major:

Think about the growth of the career field that interests you. Is the field dynamic and growing, or is hard to find a job in that field?

How to Choose a College Major - Use a career assessment

Keep in mind also about the types of salaries that a potential career field leads to. Will this maintain the type of lifestyle that you would like to lead? While your college major doesn't necessarily lock you into a specific future career, identifying your career interests through a career assessment can help a student to focus their college decisions to meet their career interests. Remember that as a student, choosing a career is your ultimate goal. Choosing a major and developing a career plan are steps along the way. Good luck!

                                    by Gary Anderson, former college Career Center Director and high school career choice advisor