»Choosing and Using Your Major

Haven’t decided what you want to do when you grow up? Well, the good news is that’s not something you have to answer quite yet.  Surprisingly your career and your major aren’t necessarily the same thing.  Here are a few steps to help you on the road to finding a college major that you can be happy and successful with.

Step 1: Understand that picking a major is not the same as picking a profession

This is something that really needs to sink in. Sure there are certain careers that have a direct linear path from major to career, such as engineering and nursing. Most everything else has no real direct relationship, in today’s job market companies are looking for individuals who have strong communication skills, and have the ability to think critically.

So, no matter what major you decide it’s important to compliment it with volunteering, school clubs and organizations, and internships. There are Art majors who become lawyers, Economic majors who become veterinarians, and Government majors who become ministers. In all these examples you are able to see the vast options available to different majors.

Step 2: Choose a major that you enjoy and can academically succeed in.

If you enjoy the major you will enjoy doing the work, which in turn, will probably allow you to excel academically.  With a good GPA you will build a strong foundation to get a job and/or get into a good graduate program. 

Step 3: Give yourself the opportunity to research and explore different majors.

At this point don’t worry about what you’re going to be or do for the rest of your life. Think about what you’re going to do in the next 4 years and plan accordingly. Give yourself permission to not know and explore possibilities.  In the process you will be learning critical skills that any liberal arts major will give you such as: critical thinking, clear communication skills, writing professionally, and the ability to research. 

Here are a few ways that you can explore majors at Chapman University:

  • Research on Panther Major Search to see all the different possibilities for majors
  • Review the undergraduate catalogue to learn more about the different majors
  • Talk to Professors, Upperclassmen, and Alumni
  • Take an introductory class in a major that you feel may interest you
If you need advice about what the requirements are for each major contact academic advising at 714-744-7959 (BK 406).  Also, if having done the research you feel the need for more assistance come into Quick Questions at the Career Development Center and speak to a career counselor.

+-Choosing Your Major Checklist Guide

The Career Development Center offers career counseling to assist you in choosing a major, but before you utilize these services follow this simple checklist to make sure prepared to speak with your counselor.

  1. Scan the list of majors listed in your Chapman catalog.
  2. Mark those majors that are appealing, even if you aren't sure what they are. Use your gut reaction and resist the temptation to eliminate majors because they aren't "practical."
  3. Look for patterns of interests. Do all the majors seem to be in a particular school? Do they share common characteristics? This can help you identify patterns within your academic interests.
  4. Read about the majors in the catalog. Do the classes sound interesting? This is a very important step because your idea of what that major is about may be very different than reality.
  5. Create a list of 3-5 majors you would like to explore.
  6. Utilize our "What You Can Do With Your Major" section below to read about your preferred majors.
  7. If you are still interested in the major, talk to other students who are in that major and faculty who teach the classes.
  8. Skim books that describe the occupations of people in that major. The Career Development Center has a career library with books that can be checked out. You can also use the Occupational Outlook Handbook found at www.bls.gov.
  9. Consider combining your interests by double majoring or having a major and a minor.
  10. Get an internship or part-time job in a field that's related to your major. This can be a great way to confirm that the major is right for you.

+-Online Resources to Research Majors

Check out these online resources that can help you research majors and what type of careers they can be related to.

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