Steps to Choosing a Major and Career

Contrary to popular opinion, many students remain undecided in their first year, and many more change their major at least once throughout college. Choosing your major is a big decision. Here are a few considerations to take with you as you decide.

Professional vs. Pre-Professional

There are two types of majors: pre-professional and professional. Professional majors lead to relatively narrow career opportunities. For example, if you were to major in Elementary Education, you are prepared and expected to pursue a career as an elementary teacher.

Pre-professional majors are those that have a more broad focus. With pre-professional majors, you can do virtually anything! For example, the student who chooses to major in Psychology may become an Account Manager with a national retail chain. To be successful in both pre-professional and professional majors, one key factor is necessary: gain experience while in college to become marketable in your field of interest.

Take the first year of college to confirm your college major. Here are some things you can do to help you make your decision:

  • See a Career Counselor
  • Speak with your Instructors
  • Join a Club or Organization
  • Work on Campus
  • Do Volunteer Service
  • Coursework


Get Experience!

No matter what you choose as your major, experience is essential to be competitive in the job market. Many professional majors will require additional experiences. For example, many Education programs require students to engage in student teaching.

Since most majors in college are considered pre-professional, most do not require additional experiences. As an individual student, it is important to take advantage of opportunities to gain valuable experience. Develop your brand and make your major valuable by engaging in experiences such as:

  • Internships
  • Volunteer Work
  • Research
  • Study Abroad
  • Leadership Roles in Student Organizations
  • On or Off-Campus Part Time Jobs/Summer Jobs

Apply and Graduate

When the last year of college begins, career decisions and job applications are staring you down. When we choose a major, we do not always choose our careers or post-graduate opportunities. Take the year before graduation to make a strong decision about what you want to do after graduation and take the time before graduation to begin applying to opportunities.