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James S.

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Should I choose a major(s) based on what career I want to pursue, or choose a career based on the major(s) that interest me?

I am still unsure about future career paths and declaring majors and am in need of some guidance. #college #college-major #career-counseling #career-choice #higher-education #college-majors #undecided

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Good Afternoon James,

My name is Jason, and I work at Google in University Programs, and previously in career services at Stony Brook University. There is no one way to decide on a career, and you could look at it from both angles.

Should I choose a major based on the careers I want to pursue? Some basic questions to consider: What can I see myself doing for a while? What steps can I take to get there? What majors make the most sense? (e.g. Software Engineer, internships/research/hackathons, computer science/computer engineering)

Should I choose a career based on my major? Basic questions: What majors am I interested in? From these majors, what career options can they ultimately culminate in? Which career do I most see myself as? (Psychology/Pre-med, Psychiatrist/Therapist/Social Worker/Counselor)

Looking at your question from both angles can help you find out what to major in AND what career you want to go for. Even if your school does not offer a certain major, each career has a certain umbrella of majors that fit the bill. For instance, if Finance interests you, you can study Business/Finance, but Mathematics and Statistics also fit under that. There are many paths to various careers, it all depends on what you are interested in. Conducting both online research, and connecting with peers and professionals who share your interests can help you on this path to self-discovery. Use your career services at school and spend some time poking around online, and taking notes!

That being said, pursuing a major is just one one of the things to think about when thinking about a career. There are things like internships and networking that go a long way (especially internships). You can learn all you want in a classroom, but having experience in real world applications will make you a stronger candidate when you are looking for that first post-college job. This was very true for me pursuing a double major in business and psychology because in the classroom, I learned a lot about many different facets of both disciplines, but working in a specific field of my interest helped me understand what was required of me to know/do and later focused my path to where I am today.

Hope that helped, and please let me know if you have other questions!

Last updated Jan 27 '17 at 16:37

I will answer your question with another question: why don't you think you have to choose between the career you pursue and what interests you?

Your career should be something you enjoy. That's the goal anyway: if you find a job that you love, you'll never work a day in your life. Can't remember who said that.

If you're deciding between poetry and medicine, there is no magic ball to tell you that you'll one day be a Pulitzer Prize winning poet.

Even if you do all the research in the world about each major and the possible career paths available, you still won't know what the future holds.

I'm almost 40 and I still don't know how pursuing the major that interested me is going to pan out. Others are more fortunate and are reaping the rewards of their choice immediately.

I say, don't think that this decision will irrevocably chart the course of your entire life. Just because you're pre-med doesn't mean you won't one day be a novelist. Just because you major in art history doesn't mean you won't become a lawyer.

Four years is a long time to study something just because you think it'll be good for you career wise.

You gotta love it. You have to be excited about it. You have to want to meet people who share your interest. College can be lots of fun, in and out of the classroom.

Last updated Jan 29 '17 at 21:22

Choose career based on what interests you.

Also, keep in mind, your interest will change as you learn new things. It's important to be focused on whatever you choose. At the end of the day, you have got to be able to feed yourself and your family....depending upon your situation.

;-)

Last updated Jan 27 '17 at 16:34

<span style="background-color: transparent;">Collegeboard.org is a great resource for this! I poured through the pages of universities all over the U.S. when I was a senior in high school. Collegeboard was my go-to site! They put all of the information in one place and it is very easy to use. They even have various filters you can apply to see only colleges that have programs you are interested. To determine academic rigor, look at the admissions requirements, G.P.A. of past admitted applicants, SAT/ACT scores, class rank etc. This will give you an idea of what scores and grades you need to be accepted. However, don't be discouraged your application will be reviewed based on the full picture! College-board will help you get an idea of what is most important to the specific school you are applying to.</span>


This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Chat with your Guidance Counselor</span>
  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Create a Collegeboard.org account</span>
  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Start using CollegeBoard as a resource to look up schools.</span>


Last updated Apr 04 at 14:04

There are so many differnet majors to choose from , it does get tough. But choose based on what you love and decide on what you're interested in that also applies to a school & career you'll enjoy. Collegeboard.org is a great resource for this! I poured through the pages of universities all over the U.S. when I was a senior in high school. Collegeboard was my go-to site! They put all of the information in one place and it is very easy to use. They even have various filters you can apply to see only colleges that have programs you are interested. To determine academic rigor, look at the admissions requirements, G.P.A. of past admitted applicants, SAT/ACT scores, class rank etc. This will give you an idea of what scores and grades you need to be accepted. However, don't be discouraged your application will be reviewed based on the full picture! College-board will help you get an idea of what is most important to the specific school you are applying to

Last updated May 31 at 18:24

James, many students change their major during their time at college. Hopefully it is the first year when that happens. It is helpful if you choose an area that you enjoy, have an aptitude for and is needed in the workforce.

Did you try an aptitude test?

Community colleges have them and sometimes high school. Ask your advisor at school.

Last updated Mar 28 at 21:09
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