6 ways to find the right major

woman sitting on a bench with a laptopYou did research on colleges, and now you want to research majors. Where do you start?

Internet. This is an obvious place to start. Princetonreview.com is where I did a lot of my own research. Try to get a sense of what people do with their major after they graduate. It’s also important to find out what they do in real life – not what you see on TV.

Talk to family and friends. Your family and friends will give you a unique perspective on major and career choices. You are familiar with their interests and personality, which will help you determine if you’d like to choose a similar path. They might also have connections with people in the area you’d like to go into.

Internships, mentorships, and volunteer opportunities. Take advantage of any chance to work directly in the area you’re interested in. Whether it’s a one-day shadowing opportunity or a yearlong internship, you’ll be able to see firsthand what the work is like. You’ll also be exposed to departments and careers you may not have thought about before.

Contact past alums. Some alums love to pass their knowledge on to current students. Try to find one with similar career interests. If possible, connect with someone of the same race and gender as you. This will give you the most accurate perspective of what it might be like.

It’s also important to talk with alums from different generations. A recent graduate can give you insight for the current job market and someone older will have many more experiences to draw lessons from.

Talk to your professors. Many of your professors probably didn’t go right into teaching. They may have had jobs in completely different fields before getting their doctorate. Ask them during their office hours why they decided to study that field and if they would study the same thing if they could do it over again. Ask them what they think your strengths are and if that field could be a good fit for you.

Even if they haven’t had other careers, they see students graduating and getting jobs every year. They usually have a good sense of what you can do with certain majors. They can also suggest career paths or majors you may not have thought about.

Visit your career development office. This office exists to help you make decisions about your major and career path. Take advantage of it. They’ll probably have career counselors, personality tests, workshops, and alumni directories to help you on your search.

Researching majors and careers isn’t a one-time process. Take advantage of opportunities to learn about career paths during your college career as well as after you graduate.


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