Your 4-step guide to choosing a major with confidence
When your guidance counselor asks you what you want to major in at college, is this you?
Choosing a major is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Try these four steps to start the process.
1. Reflect on your skills and interests.
Figure out your top talents and what you like to do. Ask yourself these questions to explore your strengths and interests:
- What motivates you? You want to choose a subject you care about, something that energizes you. Maybe you’re eager to help people, for example, or maybe you love analyzing problems and dreaming up solutions.
- What do people say you’re good at doing? Maybe a teacher has praised your creativity or your gift for logical thinking. These compliments could point you to certain disciplines that require these traits.
- What high school classes and extracurricular activities do you enjoy? If you love reading or conducting experiments, or if you’ve done paid or volunteer work, played sports or held leadership roles, these experiences can give you clues about the type of work you would like to pursue.
- What setting do you see yourself in? A busy office where you work with a large team, or a smaller organization where you work with just a few colleagues?
- Are you more social or solitary? If you value frequent interaction, you may be interested in people-oriented majors, such as business, education or music therapy. If you prefer solitude, you could consider more task-oriented majors—accounting, information systems or cybersecurity.
- Are you more practical or analytical? If you enjoy concrete, hands-on work, you may enjoy exercise science, emergency planning and management, fashion merchandising or supply chain management. If you prefer abstract, conceptual work, you could explore psychology, political science or communication.
2. Research jobs that appeal to you.
Check out the Occupational Information Network, or O*NET Online, a resource that describes numerous career possibilities and the functions they involve. Have some fun exploring your options and selecting a few that match your skills and interests.
O*NET can also give you a sense of the job market for certain occupations. Want to enter a field that is likely to have lots of future openings? Try cybersecurity, finance, financial planning, marketing or nursing.
Pay attention to what education level is typically required for the jobs you like. Say you want to go into health care, but you don’t want to spend several years in med school and a residency program. You could opt for an allied health profession instead, which has a shorter training period.
3. Reach out for guidance.
Know some people who have jobs that interest you? Ask if you can interview them. Find out what they love about their work, what challenges they face and what changes they see coming in their field that you might have to prepare for.
If you’re still unsure what to major in, that’s OK! You can start off in Immaculata’s undecided program and talk with an advisor who will help guide you through various career options to find the right fit for you.
You can also talk with our career development staff, who can suggest ideas and connect you with faculty who can tell you more about the majors you’re considering and the job opportunities associated with them.
“But I still don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life!” you say.
Choosing a major is just one part of your career journey, and it may not determine as much about your future path as you think. The professionalism you cultivate, the experiences you gain through internships and the networking connections you build all count for a lot, too. So don’t stress about choosing the “wrong” major.
Your major won’t lock you into a lifetime in just one career field. As part of Immaculata’s liberal arts core curriculum, you’ll take classes in a range of disciplines, which will hone your ability to master new concepts and skills throughout your life. This gives you the freedom to explore other careers, change jobs and adapt as job markets change.
So take some time to reflect on what you want, research different fields and reach out for support at IU. You’ve got this!