Choosing a major is one of the most difficult decisions you will need to make during your college education. You need to consider what type of classes you are interested in and are able to successfully complete and what type of career you hope to pursue once your degree is completed. Don’t be alarmed — it is VERY NORMAL to have difficulty selecting a major. This is not a decision that can be made upon completion of one workshop or one day of self assessment. It is an ongoing investigative process that you will need to undergo in order to make an informed decision.
Some common reasons why students have difficulty selecting a major:
- Lack of knowledge (not knowing what majors or occupations are out there).
- Uncertainty of own interests, skills and abilities, or fear of certain types of academic work (math, speech, writing, research).
- Mistaken belief that choice of major totally determines career.
- Have too many options, too many interests.
- Feel pressure to meet parents/friends expectations.
- Do not see a major that fits personal interest area.
- Fear of failure.
This might create a stressful situation, but remember that it is NORMAL. A majority of students in all colleges and universities change their major at least once in their college careers; and many change their major several times over the course of their college career. However, this does not mean that because it is normal you should delay the decision-making process. You need to take initiative to investigate your options and assess your values, abilities, and interests.
Consider all options
Go through Temple’s undergraduate bulletin to explore all possible majors. Pay close attention to the courses you will need to take in majors of interest. Make sure you realistically assess the courses you need to take and make sure that it is a realistic major for you. In addition, consider the career possibilities within the major.
When you go through the bulletin:
- Eliminate majors that you know you would not want to pursue.
- Make a list of the existing majors.
- Explore the list of existing majors and select the most appealing majors from the list.
- Schedule appointments with faculty in the majors to find out more information.
- It is also a good idea to make an appointment with the Career Development office for a one on one consultation.
There are a variety of resources that can and should be utilized when deciding on a major.
Contact academic departments for the most current information regarding course descriptions, options, and requirements for academic degrees. Discuss options with departmental representatives, professors, and other students. Visit Student Organizations.
ACADEMIC ADVISING (West Hall 109)
Advisors and Career Counselors can assist you in selecting courses to explore different majors, the process of declaring a major, and other types of academic support. We are here to support you and are always a good starting place with any of your academic issues. If we are unable to assist you, we can at the very least direct you where you need to go.
TEMPLE UNIVERISTY UNDERGRADUATE BULLETIN
The bulletin gives a description of all majors at Temple along with the course requirements for each major.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT (West Hall 109)
Make an appointment for individual career counseling and career assessment at 267-468-8200. Career Services offers comprehensive services to help you with academic and career decision-making and exploring ways to connect your major with a career/graduate studies.
OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK HANDBOOK
This is an excellent resource to explore different career options. It provides information on a wide variety of jobs and includes a wealth of information, including education required for specific careers.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH THIS MAJOR?
Temple University’s career development Web site includes an extensive list of majors and the different options you have with each of those majors.
Students are placed as volunteers with an employer in exchange for an opportunity to assess a career option. Two or three credits can be earned for this two-week experience during winter break.
Reasons to do an externship
- Observe what the field is really like.
- Expand your network.
- Gain valuable experience that you can put on your resumé.
Conducting informational interviews is an excellent way to help find out if a career path is right for you. To learn more about informational interviews click here.
ASSESSING YOUR INTERESTS ACTIVITY
Self assessment is an ongoing process. Work can be enjoyable. Think about what interests you and how that can be applicable to a career.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What am I excited about in my life right now?
- What do I enjoy doing?
- What activities can make me lose track of time?
- What is the coolest job I can think of?
- What games and activities did I enjoy most as a child?
- If I imagine myself in five years, what would I ideally be doing?
- What is it I have not yet done, that I truly desire to do before I die?
- What action could I take today that would lead me to my dream life?
- What would I want for myself if I knew I could have it any way I wanted?
- What would I do if I knew I wouldn’t fail?
- What are the activities that you love and enjoy most?
Consider the work environment and conditions that would work best for you:
- What would be your ideal work environment?
- How would your ideal work day go?
- What hours would you prefer to work?
- Would you prefer to work a 70 hour work week and make a great deal of money OR work a 40 hour work week and make an average amount of money?
The above questions are a form of self assessment. Do not worry if you are unable to answer ALL the questions. Choosing a major is a difficult process, and if you knew the answer to all of those questions you would probably be able to decide on a major. These questions are designed to get you to begin the self assessment process.
- It is okay to be undecided. You can use your first and second years to explore different academic fields.
- 20 to 50 percent of students enter college undecided.
- As many as 70 percent of students change majors at least once.
Choosing a major is only one factor in determining your future job prospects and career path. Your grades, the electives you choose, and the skills you acquire through your coursework often will determine the career opportunities available to you more than does your major. Use your career goals as the basis for decisions about academic major, elective courses, internships, and extracurricular activities.
There are also computerized tests that can be taken to assist in the self assessment process. Below are some online resources.