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    Choosing a Major

    This section is designed to assist you in making thoughtful, well-informed decisions in choosing a major. This choice can be difficult and is often questioned various times throughout one’s college career. We divide the major exploration process into two main steps: self-assessment and exploration and research.

    The sections below will describe these stages in more depth. For additional assistance, or to further discuss your current major options, please make an appointment to meet with one of our consulting staff by calling (205) 348-5848.

    Self-Assessment

    Before you choose a major, identify your interests, abilities, and the type of knowledge and skill set you would like to acquire in your academic career. Also, clarify how your major fits with your college and career goals.

    Questions to ask yourself:

    • Do I want a major that will prepare me specifically for the career I have in mind?
    • Do I want a major that will provide me with a broad skill set?
    • Do I want a major that will enhance my chances of acceptance into graduate or professional school?

    Self-awareness is necessary for choosing your major and your possible career path because of your investment of time and effort. Allowing time for self-reflection while choosing a major may lead to more informed decisions, reducing the likelihood of rethinking your choices down the road.

    As part of your self-reflection, it may be helpful to explore the following:

    • Interests: What do you enjoy doing? How do you spend leisure time? What subjects do you like?
    • Personality: What energizes you? What environment suits your learning and work style?
    • Values: What is important to you? What motivates you to take action?
    • Skills: What are activities in which you excel? What are your natural abilities?

    Evaluating these personal areas requires intentional reflection, and many students find it helpful to work with a career consultant to ensure they are conducting a thorough self-assessment. Some students benefit from online assessments because the results often introduce careers not previously considered. Results from these assessments may also provide students with reassurance and confirmation of current career interests.

    When reviewing these suggested careers, remember that they are not listed because you should pursue them. There is no “career test” that can determine what path you should pursue. Careers listed are examples of ones that, in some way, align with your responses to questions on the assessment.

    A career consulting staff member can help you determine the best step toward identifying possible careers to research further.

    Exploring Majors

    Choosing a major does not necessarily equate to choosing a profession; however, some majors are designed to prepare students for specific careers (nursing, for example). If you have a career in mind, you may want to identify majors that will contribute to your overall preparation. This process of career research will help you determine the knowledge and skills needed to perform in existing occupations. Keep in mind, though, that your major is only part of what employers consider when hiring.

    After identifying several majors to choose from, researching each can help you make a decision. If you want to explore all majors at UA, begin at the top of the list, scrolling past majors you can rule out with confidence. Don’t eliminate majors simply because you know nothing about them; gather additional information about each major through departmental websites and from conversations with faculty and advisors. Reading course descriptions may also help.

    Resources

    • List of all UA majors
    • whatcanidowiththismajor.com
    • O*Net OnLine is a database of hundreds of occupations described in terms of daily tasks, knowledge required, and qualifications and interests of the typical worker. You can search for occupations by title, industry, or projected growth. The Advanced Search option allows you to browse occupations by abilities, interests, knowledge, and skills related to the job.
    • Occupational Outlook Handbook is a collection of occupational profiles that cover the tasks of a job, its work environment, the steps for landing the job, and the job’s projected outlook. The Career Exploration/Research Worksheet may be a useful navigational tool for finding and evaluating information on this site.
    • CareerBeam is a virtual tool to help you identify careers that may be of interest based on your preferences.
    • Exploring Majors Worksheet – searching for a major can be overwhelming. This worksheet includes a few steps that may facilitate the process.