Choosing a College Major
There is no one right way to choose a major, but the best route is to take your time and make an informed choice.
- First and foremost, use your resources. The staff of the CAPP are here to help you in your journey to find a major you love! We offer career coaching to guide you in this process, including developing goals for major and career exploration, and later on gaining career-building experiences.
- Engage in self-discovery activities to learn more about your strengths, values, interests, and personality. The CAPP offers a variety of assessments, including the Strengths Quest.
- Explore careers that best fit your unique set of characteristics.
- Explore the connection between majors and careers – it is not always a clear-cut path. For instance, to become a nurse one must major in nursing, but to become a public relations specialist one could select from any number of majors. Choose a career that you would find enriching and satisfying and then select the major that will get you there.
- Talk to faculty and other students about various majors and career paths.
- Talk to people (family, friends, employers, etc.) about their careers – informational interviews are a great way to learn about different career paths.
- Attend career fairs and other career-related events on campus. This allows you to get firsthand information from employers and learn more about industry needs.
- Join organizations and get involved on campus. If there is a specific major you are considering, or if you already have declared a major, find out if there is a student organization for that major and join. This will help you to connect with other students who have similar interests and to gather more information about your intended major.
- Follow your dreams, but make informed choices. This means balancing your passion with additional considerations such as job market demand, salary, skills, occupational growth projections and geographic location. Your decisions may depend on how important these additional considerations are to you.
- Take classes that match your interests and skills to fully explore and develop these areas. Your advisor will help you to identify courses to consider.
- Learn the requirements of the different programs of study you are considering in order to make an informed choice about a major. The Millikin Bulletin (course catalog) and your faculty advisor are great resources for this.
- Don't forget to explore minors and certificates that Millikin offers. This is a great way to customize your educational experience to prepare you for a wide range of career options.
- Experience it. Seek out opportunities to get hands-on career experience through part-time jobs, volunteering, job shadowing, or internships. Again, CAPP staff are available to guide you in this.
Evaluating a Major
You’ve engaged in self-discovery activities to learn more about who you are. You’ve explored careers and majors that might be a good fit. Now it’s time to consider the following in order to fully evaluate potential majors:
- What preparatory courses are required?
- What is the minimum GPA for acceptance into the major? (if applicable)
- How many courses in the major are required?
- Are the course offerings sequential or non-sequential?
- Look at the Millikin Bulletin and the Eight-Semester Plan of Study found online for each major.
- If there is a required course, or courses, could they pose scheduling conflicts/difficulties?
- Are the exams finite reasoning or essays?
- How much freedom is there for elective courses, flexibility and creativity, and individual projects?
- How many credits are needed in order to graduate in that major?
- What are some of the careers of graduates of the department?
Visit the departments you are considering and schedule time to speak with a faculty member to learn more. Talk with current students who have selected the major you are considering and perhaps sit in on a few classes to help determine what a particular major will entail.
Need Some Help?
Some services designed to assist you in choosing a major include:
Individual career coaching is offered through the Center for Academic & Professional Performance (The CAPP). Stop by or call 424-6294 to schedule an appointment.
Several career assessments are available: Strengths Quest, Values Sort Worksheet, O*Net Next Move, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
THE NEXT STEP - EASY AS 1, 2, 3
Sometimes it’s difficult to get started. If you write it down, you’ll be more apt to do it. Write three things that you will do within the next two months to help you in choosing a college major.
What To Do With A Major In...
We recommend you select careers that may be a good fit for your unique strengths, values, interests, and personality. You can then select a major, sometimes any number of majors, that will prepare you for that career path. Often career-building experience will be more important than having a degree in any one specific major. Many students prefer to identify some of the common careers associated with majors first and then choose a career path.
Visit the CAPP to obtain information regarding common careers associated with majors you are considering, as well as to learn more about career paths of Millikin graduates in a particular major.