Guide to Choosing a Major

Need some guidance in selecting a major? Don’t worry!

It may seem that everyone else at Baruch already knows what they want to major in (accounting sure is popular here!), but three out of four entering undergraduate students in the U.S. are undecided. And, fifty percent will change their major at least once while in college.  So, being unsure about your major makes you quite normal!

Choosing a major may be one of the most important decisions you make in college and you should not make a quick or impulsive decision.  A good decision takes time to:

Gather information about various majors and careers to:

  • Honestly assess yourself to determine what you like and want
  • Determine how these two factors interact with each other
  • Understand how your decision-making style will influence your major/career development process
  • Identify myths, barriers and obstacles to this process
  • Come to a satisfying decision

Career development is a life-long process that requires on-going evaluation of interests, skills, values and the match between personality and a chosen work environment.  If done realistically, it can allow for a fulfilling career that utilizes your abilities, stimulates your interests, satisfies your values, and suits your personality.

As you explore potential careers avoid making decisions based on some of these common myths:

I must jump on the same track as my friends at Baruch
There are many other rewarding and satisfying careers aside from accounting, finance and investment banking. Evaluating potential careers can be an exciting process if you fully explore all the possibilities and make a decision based on what would offer you the most satisfaction. While it’s a challenge not to succumb to peer or family pressure, remember that it’s your future.

My major determines my career choices
Many employers are looking for qualities and skills that are not directly related to your major. Motivation, strong skills in organization and writing and the ability to problem solve are just a few examples of what employers value. Most careers don’t require a specific major, and most people don’t use their major in ways they expected.

There is only one right career for me
Most people are capable of performing well in at least two to three different professional fields. The trick is to develop a good understanding of your values, skills, interests and personality and then explore those careers that best fit your profile at this point in your life. As you acquire more experience, your values and interests and ideas about a career may change. A career doesn’t always follow a logical progression so avoid thinking that the road you choose to take at this point in your life will lead you down a rigid path.

Career choices are irreversible
Many people change careers or jobs at least three times in their lives and it’s likely in the future that your generation will make even more career changes. If it turns out that you don’t like your job or the specific career field, it is possible to change directions. Sometimes specific skills developed in one job are highly valued in another field. Many graduates tend to work for approximately three to five years and then pursue graduate or professional school as a way to enhance their skills and abilities or to change careers.

Success is directly related to money and status
Money and status are very appealing and there is nothing wrong in wanting to achieve these goals. However, be careful not to compromise your values as you consider potential careers. Try to balance your salary requirements with a career that you feel confident will utilize your skills and abilities. For some people making a contribution to society is more attractive than earning a large income. As you evaluate career choices, think carefully about what success means to you.

It’s abnormal to feel anxious about making career decisions
A career decision reflects a major life transition. It’s human nature to question our decisions and to doubt the outcome. For most college students, a career decision is stressful. As you assess your career goals, the staff at Starr will support you through this very important phase in your life.

Resources available at the Starr Career Development Center
As you assess your career interests and goals and begin the arduous task of making a decision, take advantage of the most valuable resource at Starr: career counseling. Our experienced staff will support you through this very important phase of your career development. Whether your are in the initial stage of choosing a major/career, researching your options, struggling to make a decision or ready to hit the road with a job search plan, consult with a career counselor.

How Can a Career Counselor Assist You?

  • Help you sort through your talents, interests, skills and values and identify potential majors and/or careers that match your profile.
  • Administer vocational tests to help you determine your major and career interests.
  • Help you to carefully evaluate the confusing messages you may be receiving about careers from friends, family and the media.
  • Answer your career or graduate school questions and discuss any concerns related to career choice and job search.
  • Work with you to develop your ideas about a career and offer advice on researching careers and approaching your job search.
  • Point out the variety of career and job search resources available at Starr, on the Starr Web page and at our Workshops.
  • Provide information on networking, information interviews, and on-campus recruiting.
  • Offer advice on and critique of resumes, cover letters, thank-you notes and graduate school essays.
  • Help prepare you for an interview by discussing the guidelines and/or arranging for a video-taped mock employment interview.

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