Choosing a Major
This guidance is designed to help you explore your major/minor options and make an informed decision about your curriculum. Remember that your choice of major is not always telling of your future career! Through a Jesuit education grounded in the liberal arts, all students develop skills in communication, critical thinking and ethical judgment. Regardless of major, these core skills will prepare you for a career in a wide variety of fields.
Step 1: Self-Assessment
Identify your most important interests (what you enjoy), skills (what you do well) and values (what motivates you). Discover the “real you” and what you want to achieve. Keep in mind that the more passionate you are about your intended major, the likelier you are to enjoy your studies.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What activities do I enjoy during my spare time?
- What kinds of books or websites do I most like to read?
- What classes have I most enjoyed?
- In which classes do I excel?
- In what class format do I perform best (e.g., lectures, seminars, labs, discussion)?
- What activities do I do well? What have I done in the past that makes me especially proud?
- What clubs and organizations have I been involved in? What did I like/dislike about these experiences?
- What were my favorite (and least favorite) jobs? Which skills did I particularly enjoy using/developing?
Sometimes these questions are harder to answer than you might expect. The Career Development Center has resources to help you.
Step 2: Make a List of Possible Majors/Minors
Develop a list of majors/minors that you would like to explore. Consider how your skills, interests, values, and goals fit with programs you are considering.
Some strategies for investigating majors/minors include:
- Utilize the Program Explorer tool.
- Review the program requirements in the Academic Course Catalog.
- Talk with faculty in departments that are of interest to you. Faculty want to talk with you about the programs offered in their department, even if you’re not sure if you’ll become a major.
- Take a look at the textbooks you would be using in your classes and any available web resources.
- Take an introductory course in a field of study that is interesting to you.
- Talk with students in the major or alumni who graduated with the major.
- Talk with your Advising Center and/or a counselor in the Career Development Center.
- Visit the Majors resource section on the Career Development Center's Website.
Some questions to consider as you investigate majors/minors:
- What courses are required to complete this major? Can I do this within a four-year plan?
- Who are the faculty in the department? What are their areas of research?
- Is it possible to double major or complete a minor?
- What specifically interests me about this major?
- Why would I expect to do well in this course of study?
- What are four skills I will need to possess or develop to be successful in the study of this major?
- Is co-op available? If so, what type of placements are typical for students in this major?
- Does this major allow for internships or study abroad? If so, what are the requirements?
- Looking through the Academic Catalog, how many of the courses offered in this major genuinely appeal to me? Which ones are most interesting?
- What is the connection between this major and my career plans?
- What are examples of careers St. Joe's graduates with this major pursued?
Step 3: Evaluate and Decide
Time to make a choice! Take a step back and think about all the information you have gathered. Students will make their final choice in different ways. Some may know intuitively what they really want to do. Others may need more guidance and help in making a selection. Ultimately, however, this needs to be YOUR decision. Be aware of and address any obstacles that may hinder your decision making ability. This may include anxiety, perceived expectations, your own thoughts, financial concerns, parental pressure, others’ opinions/needs, etc. If you are encountering obstacles or feeling “stuck,” talk with your faculty advisor, a staff member in your Advising Center or a career counselor in the Career Development Center.
When you are ready to declare, submit an online major, minor, or secondary major form.
Step 4: Take Action and Reevaluate
Follow through on your decision. Meet with your advisor/professors to develop an academic plan. Remember that decision-making is an ongoing process. Once you have declared a major/minor you may find yourself frequently evaluating whether or not you made the best choice. As you take more classes and gain experience you will determine if you made the best choice for you.