A Six-Step Process to Finding a College Major
This worksheet is a companion piece to the article, Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path. Although much of the material in that article overlaps this worksheet, you may wish to read the article.One of the greatest stressors for college-bound high-school students -- as well as for some college students -- is choosing a college major. Deciding your major (and minor) is a life decision, and one that can have an impact on your plans beyond college -- either for your career or for continued studies in graduate school.Use this worksheet to help guide your thinking as you take steps toward choosing a college major that is best for you.Step 1: Self-Assessment of Interests. Write down a list of activities, course subjects, and topics that interest you, inspire you. What are your likes and dislikes -- about school, hobbies, work, and volunteering. If you taken an assessment test in school (or online), you can enter some of the results here as well. You can also use our Career Passion Tutorial and Career Passion Worksheet to help you assess the types of things that excite you. See also our collection of Career Assessment Tools & Tests.
|Things that Interest, Inspire Me|
Step 2: Examination of Skills and Abilities. One of the most important elements in choosing a major (and a future career) is a realistic review of your strengths and weaknesses, skills and abilities. It's important to take an honest view of the subjects/skills you are best at, as well as those you struggle with. Write down your best and worst skills and abilities.
|Skills That I Want to Use and Excel at||Skills That I Don't Want to Use or am Weak in|
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Step 3: Understanding What You Value About Work. Different jobs and careers provide a range of intrinsic rewards to people working in them. For example, teachers place a much greater value on educating and impacting the lives of their students than they do on financial rewards. What are you seeking from your career? Some examples include helping society, working under pressure, group affiliation, stability, security, social status, financial rewards. Write down a list of what you seek from your future career. For additional help, review our workplace values assessment.
|The Values I Want From My Job/Career|
Step 4: Researching Occupations and Careers. Many students have an idea of the types of work they may want to do, but rarely do they have a full understanding of the requirements of the work -- or even what the work fully entails. Others have never really thought about careers and have little or no knowledge of what they want to do after college. This step involves conducting research and recording the information you found about one or more potential career fields. Write down summary notes below and use additional sheets or printouts to keep detailed information about each career path. Besides using the Internet and library for your research, consider both job shadowing and informational interviews to gain more personal insights into careers. See also our collection of Career Exploration Tools and Resources.
|Potential Career Fields for Me|
Step 5: Information Review & Reality Check. Now that you have a better understanding of yourself and one or more potential career paths, it's time to conduct an honest appraisal of whether your skills, interests, and values are a good match with the careers that most excite you. For example, you may love the idea of becoming a doctor, but do not have the math or science skills necessary for medical school. Your task in these situations, is to conduct further research to see if other career paths in the same field will be a good match for you. (Go back to Step 4 if you need to conduct more research.) Write down the list of careers and jobs that best fit you, starting with the career that best seems to fit your interests AND skills.
|Careers/Jobs That Best Fit Me|
Step 6: Matching College Majors to Career Paths. For many jobs, the choice of college major is not as important as the actual degree, but choosing a major (or combination of majors and minors) that is directly related to your choice of career often provides a deeper level of skills and understanding of the subject as well as opens door to internships, co-ops, and other part-time work experience in the field prior to graduation. Conduct research on the careers from Step 5 to help determine the best college major. For example, if you think you want to be a high school math teacher, what should you major in? Write down your list of potential majors and minors here.
|Prospective Career||Appropriate Major(s)/Minor(s)|
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Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.