Steps to Majors Decision

Step 1: Assess Yourself
Your first step is to do some self-assessment. The more you understand yourself, the clearer your life goals and the way to reach them will become. Asking yourself the following questions will give you some important clues:

    * What do you truly enjoy? Consider the classes and activities that you have liked the best. What did they involve? Why did you enjoy them? There are careers related to every interest you have!
    * What are you good at? Identify your skills and abilities. What types of things do you seem to do well? Are they technical... adventurous... intellectual?
    * What is really important to you? Is enjoying your work more important than prestige? Is creativity more important than security? You want your choice to be compatible with your values.
    * What is the coolest job you can imagine? Describe it as specifically as you can. Try to locate and contact one or two people in this area and ask them how they got there.
    * Ask your career center staff what assessments they offer. These can help you discover more about yourself.

Step 2: Gather Information and Explore Options

    * Examine the majors available to you in your school's catalog. Make a list of your options and eliminate those that don't interest you. Read about the majors remaining on your list. Mark the courses in each major that most interest you, match your abilities, and share your values. This should help you further shorten your list.
    * Review additional information about the majors on your short list. Visit each department's Web pages, or read print materials they offer. Talk with an academic advisor, students currently in these majors, and faculty members.
    * Visit your career center's resource center. What is available? Does the career center offer a workshop in choosing a major? Talk with a career counsellor. The more information you find, the more informed your final decision will be.

Step 3: Evaluate and Make Your Major Decision

    * It's time to put together the information you have collected. Consider what you have learned. Weigh the pros and cons of each option. If you haven't already, narrow your list down to two or three majors.
    * Consider the feasibility of a second major or making one of your options your minor. Does your institution offer what is often called an interdisciplinary major or minor? This is a major or minor you create yourself within prescribed parameters. It allows you to take classes selected from different departments that share some theme or career goal.
    * If you are still having difficulty deciding, talk with an advisor or career counsellor who can help you evaluate the information you have collected, suggest additional resources, and guide you through the decision-making process.

Step 4: Take Action

    * Sample courses in the majors you are considering.
    * Choose student activities, internships, volunteer work, and/or part-time employment that can help you further develop your skills in areas that interest you.
    * Talk to people who work in the career fields you are considering. Ask them about their major and how it helped them. Since GUST has an alumni network program, this can be an excellent resource for learning more about the realities of specific career fields.
    * Go for it! Declare your major.

Many factors can get in the way of your being able to make a major or career choice. Some of the most common are listed below.

External Factors: External factors are not personal and are easier to manage than internal factors.

    * Unrelatedness of majors and careers: Understanding that majors and careers have developed independently of each other will help you avoid becoming stuck, wondering what you can do with a particular major.

    * Lack of information: Often, you don't have enough information to be comfortable making a decision. You have had very little opportunity up to this point to learn about different majors and careers. Your career center is an excellent place to begin. If you're more independent-minded, begin researching on your own.
    * Too much information: This is particularly true since the advent of the World Wide Web. A huge amount of information is available, and it's easy to become overwhelmed. Don't give up: you can learn how to quickly and efficiently find good, accurate information on the Web, and your career center can help.

Internal Factors : Internal factors are more personal. Sometimes, these concerns must be addressed before the decision-making process can be completed.

    * Lack of self-confidence: If your choice of a major or career seems especially critical, you may not feel confident in your ability to make a good decision. Often, obtaining additional information can solve this problem. Other times, more counselling may be needed.
    * Fear/anxiety: While a little anxiety is positive and can help you stay on your toes, too much can wear you down. Fearing that you will make "bad" decisions can paralyze you. A career counsellor can help you separate your rational from irrational fears.
    * Conflicting values: You may be considering paths that are not compatible with each other. Perhaps you want to earn a good salary but also want to work in the non-profit sector; or perhaps you would love to work as a performer but also need job security. Doing some values clarification work may help you here.
    * Conflict with others: Parents, spouses, and significant others often have definite ideas about your career choice. A desire to please others and the need for continued financial support are two ways significant-others can put undue pressure on you. A career counsellor may be able to help you identify ways to deal with this.
    * Multipotentiality: If you have many interests and many abilities, your problem may be one of narrowing down options rather than creating them. Once again, a career counsellor can help you find appropriate criteria for narrowing down your options.