Choosing a Major
Choosing an academic major can feel daunting. Fortunately, you have resources. For starters, keep in mind that a college degree, especially one rooted in the liberal arts, can prepare you for many career options. Numerous people have earned undergraduate degrees in specific disciplines only to pursue careers in unrelated areas. This can happen because the skills you gain from a multi-disciplinary education—critical thinking, communication, teamwork, digital literacy, leadership, professionalism, intercultural competency, and lifelong learning, just to name a few—prepare you for many roles.
Relatedly, a choice of major does not commit you to a specific career or industry for the rest of your life. Earning a college degree and possibly even working in that field for a few years does not keep you from pursuing other interests or career options in the future. Your responsibility is to make an informed decision about the major that seems like the best choice now; but leave room for marveling at how God will direct your path within or outside of this field as your vocational journey unfolds.
Steps in choosing a major
Making an informed decision about what major to choose involves the following key steps:
- Assessing who you are and how God has uniquely gifted you,
- Doing research on your options,
- Taking actionable steps to try out a major and/or career, and
- Trusting God in the discernment process.
- Take the CareerExplorer Inventory and explore the top careers and majors they recommend.
- Answer the following questions:
- What do you truly enjoy?
- What are you good at?
- Where do #1 & #2 intersect?
- What is the coolest job you can imagine?
- What do you value or find important?
- What makes you sad or angry and motivates you to action?
- What advice do people ask of you?
- If money were no object, what would you do with your time?
- How does your personality uniquely dispose you toward certain kinds of work?
- Examine the majors available at Northwestern College. When you read through Northwestern’s undergraduate catalog, what major, minor or course descriptions seem most interesting?
- Use the internet to research different occupations.
- Talk with professors, advisers and students in the majors that interest you.
- Seek the advice of the people who know you best.
- Sample courses in the majors you are considering. Elective credit is never a waste if it helps you clarify your interests.
- Participate in student activities, internships, volunteer work and/or part-time employment in areas you are considering.
- Conduct an informational interview with someone who works in your desired field.
- Conduct a job shadow with a professional in your area of interest.
- Seek God’s guidance by praying for wisdom and clarity.
- Reflect on the counsel offered by people who know and care about you.
- Synthesize your research. Weigh the pros and cons. Compare how your interests and skills align with what you hear, observe and read.
- Narrow your list down to one or two majors. Consider using one interest as a minor or career concentration.
- Make the decision. It can always be changed!
- If you are having difficulty, schedule an appointment through Handshake with a staff member in the Compass Center for Career & Calling. They would love to help!