Insights & Expertise

How Do You Choose a Major? Follow These 5 Steps.

Saint Joseph’s Career Development Center, a valuable resource for current students and alumni, recommends five steps to choosing a major and career path.

A smiling student sits outside Post Learning Commons with her laptop

by Andrew Westveer

The one question college students get asked a lot is, “What’s your major?” Choosing an undergraduate program as your major field of study is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be daunting.

So, how do you go about deciding on a major? And how will your choice affect your career? There’s a resource right here on Hawk Hill with answers: The Career Development Center.

If you’re wondering when to start, Associate Director Christine Falcone offers this advice: Start now. “This is a process. If you're continually exploring and taking in information,” says Falcone, “it's going to help you make a wise decision for your major. And for your career.”

1. Your first step: Start with an assessment.

The Career Development Center offers Focus 2, an online career and education planning resource accessible on their website. Students can log in, take the assessment and get immediate results. The system helps you choose a major, build your career goals and gather information on jobs. The key to getting the most from the assessment is to talk about the results with a counselor at the Center, either in person or virtually. “There is really great information there to guide your exploration,” says Falcone, “and we’ll help you interpret the results.”

2. Keep in mind: Your major does not equal your career.

When you're choosing a major, think about what you're interested in and what classes you love. If you like what you're studying, you're going to be excited to learn and you’ll enjoy your projects. The value of a liberal arts education is that it can lead to a variety of careers. “If you love philosophy,” says Falcone, “declare the major and then come to the Center. Let's talk about how you’ll use the major and explore opportunities.” 

3. Reach out: Conduct informational interviews.

“Networking is how the majority of people get their opportunities,” says Falcone. Talk with current students. Talk with alumni about their majors and their careers. Ask questions: what they like, what they would do differently. The Center’s website includes a link to the online alumni advisory tool SJU Connects, just one of many networking opportunities on the site. The platform is a great way to connect with alumni for advice and coaching. The Dean’s Leadership Program also recently launched a new mentorship program.

4. Your career counselor: Schedule a personal appointment.

You may have narrowed your choice down to a couple of different majors. Or, your choices may be wide open and you’re not sure how to get started. Reflecting on your personality, skills, values and interests is the first step toward gaining personal insight into what works for you. “Meeting with a counselor at the Center is really helpful,” says Falcone. “We can give you a starting point to guide you through the process.”

5. Gain experience: Explore experiential learning.

Experiential learning at Saint Joseph’s includes internships, co-ops, weekly service, part-time jobs, service-learning classes, study abroad and more. You’ll find the full list of opportunities on the Center’s website. Eighty-four percent of 2020 graduates participated in at least one semester-long experiential program. It’s a popular option with good reason. “If you engage in experiential learning,” says Falcone, “you're going to have more information and make good choices for yourself.”


For additional resources and information on upcoming events and workshops, visit the Career Development Center website.