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Steps to Choosing Your Major

Step 1 – Self Assessment – Get to Know Yourself

This sounds a little vague…how does someone really get to know him or herself better? So you need to go through hours and hours of self-absorbed thought or seek a psychic friend? No, that's not what we're suggesting. Let's face it; you're old enough to be in college, you probably know yourself pretty well by now. You know what you like or don't like; what makes you happy or sad; what doesn't bother you or what makes you really angry. We're suggesting that you put all of those pieces together about yourself and think about them in terms of lifelong employment. How do you put those pieces together? You could start out by taking some interesting personality and career tests. The Career Counseling Center offers the following:



The Campbell Interest and Skill Survey

These tests won't give you a magic solution, but they can be used to give you more ideas about the future. You can also use them to understand what makes you tick a little more than maybe you knew before you took the test.

In addition to the tests, you can ask yourself the following questions:

Have I always dreamed of being in a certain job?
In which subjects did I excel in school? What subjects did I avoid like the plague?
Do I like being outside better than inside or vice versa?
Do I like the solitude of being alone or sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time?
Do I like being surrounded by friends and am I very social?
Do I enjoy routine work or do I need lots of variety in order to avoid boredom?
As I look around at people I know personally, what jobs do they have that seem interesting?

All of preceding questions will help you think about where you might want to work and what you might like to do when you get there. However, the last question is key. As you look around at others in your life, do any of their careers have appeal? Getting to know people in fields that seem interesting to you are going to be vital in your career decision-making process.

Step 2 – Research and Explore – Know Your Options

This is where a lot of the work is going to come in on your part. Researching and exploring options for your future could take up quite a bit of your time, but it can also be a lot of fun. There are several major sources to tap for this information: the University, the Career Counseling Center, the Internet and other Resources, and People You Already Know.

The University: Think of the campus as a small universe. Look around, and you will find many people from just as many walks of life. As often as people tend to change careers, you will most likely find several different careers represented just in your instructors, advisors, and staff members. Don’t be afraid to utilize people you meet in college as a resource to learn about future career options. Visit the Career Counseling Center and make an appointment with the Career Counselor. Use the UL Bulletin to examine the majors offered at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Explore our webiste and the department web pages for additional information. Look carefully at the academic requirements of the majors that you are considering. Also, read the information they have provided about the opportunities available in these areas.

The Career Counseling Center: The Career Counseling Center has many resources available for career exploration. Learn about the nature of work, education, training, job outlook, salaries, job titles, and job descriptions for thousands of careers. In addition, the "What can I do with this Major?" and link to UL majors provide useful information for all majors. If this isn’t enough, sign up here to take a career test and meet with the Career Counselor.

The Internet and other Resources: Know it, learn it, love it. At least, learn to love it. The Internet is going to be your most immediate source of information out there. Check out our Resources section. Examine the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the New York Career Zone, and the Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance.

People You Already Know: This could be one of your most valuable resources. If someone you already know is already involved in your career of interest, contact him or her for more information. Ask them about what they studied in college, what the job market is like for their career, what they like most/least about their job, what advice would they give you while still in college, and so on.

Step 3 – Career Plan – Take Action

Before you make a final decision regarding a major, it would be advantageous to see these careers up close and in person. This is not only possible but highly recommended! Terms used to describe the time spent exploring more about an actual career are interning and job shadowing. Internships usually take place during the summer but can also take place during the semester. They take place in a job related to your major and sometimes are used for college credit. In addition, internships are occasionally paid positions. See Career Services for internship possibilities. Job shadowing is a shorter process. It can be for as long a period of time as you and an employer decide. During job shadowing, you are doing much of what the term describes: observing someone on the job. For example, if you think you might really want to become a banker, you could contact a banker in your community and observe him for the day. With this career, as with most others, you would find that they do many things during the course of a day that you wouldn’t expect! This step is the most involved, yet the best learning process of any of the steps because you are receiving hands-on experience with your desired career.  Also, make sure you have checked out our Career Plan and checked off all of the boxes.

Step 4 – Make a Major Decision

After getting to know yourself better, conducting research, and taking action, you will feel more prepared to declare or change that major. When you are ready to do so, discuss your options again with the Career Counselor. Once you make your final decision on a major, you will need to fill out a Change of Major Form which you can get in the The Career Counseling Center, Academic Success Center, Lee 115 or the Dean of your college if you are in Upper Division.

Step 5 – Stay Focused

Once you’ve chosen your major, ideally you will want to stick with it…the more you change your major, the longer it will take you to finish your degree and the less likely the courses you have taken will count toward your degree. I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories of people who change their major seven or eight times during their college career. Changing your major so many times is not encouraged. However, if once you have chosen a major, you would like to change it, DON’T STRESS! After all, that is part of what college is about…exploring your options and making decisions based on those explorations. Don’t feel guilty about pursuing a new direction. Remember, even after people finish their degrees, they continued to change along with their interests. Statistics show that a person could change their career six or seven times in his or her lifetime! The important thing is to press on to finish the degree in a timely manner and to understand that it is normal for your interests to change over time.