Tips for Prospective Gusties: Choosing a Major

Posted on October 15th, 2010 by

by Emma Strand, 10/15/2010

Next week, the Gustavus Admissions Office will host “Explore Gustavus,” an event which brings many prospective students and their families to campus. As potential Gusties gather information about academics, campus life and the Gustavus experience, the Career Center would like to share a few tips for high school students and regarding college majors and careers.
(From Katharine Brooks, Ed.D, published on Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com)

1. Try to ignore the pressure to declare a major before you’re ready: When you first arrive at college, it might feel like everyone has declared a major and knows exactly what they want to do with the rest of their life. Some students even claim to know their major on college tours! In reality, surveys show that about 80% of first-year college students don’t know what they plan to major in—and over 50% of college students change their major at least once before they graduate. When you begin college, take time to explore different areas of interest, ask questions, and do your research before declaring a major. At Gustavus, you have time to figure out what you enjoy—and what you don’t—before you need to declare.

2. Study majors that are unfamiliar: Often times, students say “I want to major in Communication Studies” or “Biology” but do not understand what this actually entails. By assuming you know what a major is like, you may end up in the wrong major or miss out on a major that is well-suited for you. If you don’t understand a major, take time to visit with the professors, read up on the subject, and talk to current majors. Additionally, the Career Center library has “What can I do with a major In…” sheets that explain what careers are possible with all of the majors at Gustavus.

3. Visit the campus bookstore: When you’re touring a campus, visit the bookstore! Not only can you load up on collegiate apparel (Gustavus has REALLY nice sweatshirts☺) but you can browse the textbooks for various classes. This will help give you a better understanding of the class, subject matter, and level of difficulty. This can also help you with the major search—what books do you enjoy reading? What puts you to sleep? These may be clues for a possible major.

4. Remember, with the exception of a few specific areas, your major does not equal your career: Your major is a starting point which gives you a set of skills. Your career does not have to align perfectly with your major. For example, a Communication Studies major can work in management, a Political Science major can attend medical school, and an anthropology major may end up working in career counseling. Internships and experiences are really what help you adapt your major to whatever career field you pursue.

5. Be okay with change: Like I mentioned earlier, over 50% of college students change their major at least once before they graduate. There is no shame in changing your mind! If you begin a major and are not happy, don’t feel that you are stuck. There are many people on campus who can help you form a plan to make things work. The most important thing is that you are happy and enjoying your academic work.

Families and prospective Gusties—please feel free to stop by the Career Center on your tour. We would love to meet you and answer any questions you may have. Our office is in the Johnson Student Union, near the Center for Vocational Reflection and the Community Service Center. We look forward to seeing you!

 

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