The Decision; Picking a college major easier said than done

College is coming, scholarship dates are approaching, and the end of high school is near.

By Bret Walts

The stress and pressure to pick the right college major and the right college may be overbearing for some, but it doesn’t need to be. First and foremost, you don’t have to decide on a career and a major all at once and expect your whole future to be set up before your second semester of your senior year, however, it does need to be considered.

If you were to say, have narrowed down your college majors to two choices, or even one, yet you’re not entirely sure what kind of profession you’ll get out of it, there is are a couple easy ways to go about deciding your college major.

The first step is to go to senior counselor Mrs. McGuirk, a parent or guardian, or at the very least someone who has gone through the same predicament.  In fact, Mrs. McGuirk believes the best way to know what students would really like to do is to get out there and experience it.

MAJORI would advise that students to try to find out as much information as they can on those college majors, research them online, and also see if you can find someone that might work in those fields see if you could job shadow a professional to really see what it’s like on a daily basis,” Mrs. McGuirk said. “I am a big fan and supporter of job shadowing.”

Job shadowing and research is good and picking a major is a big deal, but it is not the end of the world to be undecided.

“It is okay to be undecided,” Mrs. McGuirk said. “When I was a counselor at IUS probably 50% of the incoming freshmen I worked with were undecided and most colleges have an office of career services and usually they will help students one on one with career assessment and testing.”

Being undecided, in a way, can be a blessing. You can truly find out where you are supposed be in your life by taking a few simple steps.

“There are personality assessments where it looks at your personality and what you like to do and matches you with the personality types that go with different jobs,” Mrs. McGuirk said. “I would recommend students take either a career decision making class or work with a career counselor at a college.”

According to Mrs. McGuirk, most colleges are very helpful to freshmen that are in the major and career decision-making process so reaching out to the representatives of a university would be helpful.

However one of the most important steps in the decision making process is research. In the end, nobody but yourself can tell you what to do, so don’t make an uneducated decision. You need to decide where you will be happy and what will benefit you the most and you can’t do that without research. Job shadowing helps and the Occupational Outlook Handbook has the tools necessary for anyone to understand what they would do in any career they could desire. So don’t flip a coin or leave it up to fate, surely somewhere you can find something to set you on the right path.

OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK HANDBOOK

Here, you can input one of your choices of college majors (it will say occupation groups) and it will spit out all the possible occupations from that particular major. So say you want to major in the field of engineering, you will click on architecture and engineering under the occupation groups list. The website will then take you to a page that lists all the possible occupations from that area of study. Next, click on the one you want. So say you choose Civil Engineers, it will say the median pay is approximately $77,560. The website also provides the job demand and growth rate for the career of your choice.

Provides:

–       A detailed explanation what Civil Engineers actually do

–       The work environment of a Civil Engineers

–       A detailed explanation on how to become a Civil Engineer

–       Pay of a civil engineer vs. other occupations. Also includes pay of different types of Civil Engineers

–       Job outlook for up to the year 2020.

–       Similar occupations in case you are considering a different type of engineering/architecture path

–       Contacts for more information on the career of a Civil Engineer

Although this website is helpful, it shouldn’t choose your college major for you. It should help give you some useful information, but in the end, it’s what your heart says after you accumulated all the information possible. 

Other Advice from Mrs. McGuirk

1)   I think you have to pick the right major for where you are at that time in your life. I see some students who think they want to be in a certain field and they change their mind and that’s okay because I think we are always evolving and changing and what you want to do at 20 you may not want to do when you’re 40 so you just have to go where you are at right there in your life.

2)   I don’t think [students] need to have it all planned out. I think they need to think about short term and long terms goal. But I also think they need to know that first year in college they’re going to be taking a lot of different classes and maybe exposed to new topics and new fields that they may have not even though of and that might spark a new interest in them. I really think [seniors] need to keep all their options open too.

3)   I’m a big fan of getting minors too. I think it’s really nice if you have to interest areas to do a major and a minor.

4)   Use your electives wisely if you have a lot of different interests areas instead of just taking random classes think about what you might be interested in.

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