This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Introduction Students make decisions everyday. Choosing a major and/or a career field essentially involves the decision-making process. The effectiveness of choosing a major and career field relies on information available to you at the point you are making your decision. Information is vitally important in the decision-making process. The effectiveness of any decision you make relies on accurate and up-to-date information. Information about yourself, college majors, and the world of work will be helpful to you as you go through the process of choosing a major and/or career field. Recent research indicates that it is typical for undergraduates to try out four or five majors before arriving at a decision. If you have not selected a major or you are uncomfortable with the major you are currently in, you are not alone. A common myth about selecting an academic major is that the major you choose must relate to a specific field. The reality is that a bachelor's degree prepares you for many different career paths. Some majors are more directly linked to specific career options, while others are less directly related. For example, a Nursing major will most likely work in the field of nursing or a closely related healthcare position. However, a Sociology major may work as a caseworker, manager, claims representative or marketing manager, to name a few. There are many factors that may influence your choice of major and/or career field. For example, family and cultural influences, economic trends, skill preferences, peer pressure, personal values, work values, interests, personality, health considerations, natural talents, and aptitude are several factors that may influence career and education decisions. Everyone experiences some fear or apprehension when making a decision. We also learn about ourselves and about how we make decisions each time we go through the decision-making process. People use many different strategies when making decisions. The decision-making process is a very personal process that varies from one person to the next. The following are a few decisionmaking strategies each of us has used. Impulsive: Little thought or examination; taking the first alternative; one does not "look before they leap." Fatalistic: Letting the environment decide; leaving it up to fate, "it is all in the stars."
Compliant: Let someone else decide for you or follow someone else's ideas. Delaying: Postponing the decision or action; "deciding" to make the decision sometime in the future.
Agonizing: Getting lost in all the data; getting overwhelmed with analyzing the alternatives.
Using your gut feeling, hunch, or sense to make a decision, usually done without gathering all the necessary information or considering alternatives. Unable to make a decision; no alternative seems possible; complete indecision and fear.
All of us have used some or all of the above decision-making strategies at one time in our life. Sometimes the decision-making strategy we use may interfere or prevent us from making a decision, making a decision in a timely manner, or making one that is right for us. The following is a 6-Step Decision-making Model that will help give you an outline to follow as you begin the process of making education and career decisions. Step 1: Identify the Decision to be Made Before you begin gathering information, it is important that to have a clear understanding of what it is you are trying to decide. Examples of decisions you might consider are: • What is going to be my choice of major? • How does my major relate to the world of work? • Would I like to select a minor to compliment my major? • What are my educational goals? • Do I want to go to graduate school? • Which G.E. courses will introduce me to various majors/fields? • How does my choice of major relate to my career goals. • What are my career goals? Step 2: Get to Know Yourself Before you select a major, choose a field or career, or decide whether you would like to go to graduate school, it is important to develop a sense of who you are - your interests, values, skills, and personality. Some questions you might wish to consider are: Interests: • What brings my joy? • What do I spend my time thinking or reading about? • What activities or classes do I really like? • What types of people to I like to be around? • What energizes me - either things I have seen, heard about, or done? • What is my earliest recollection of what I wanted to do when I "grew up?" How does it relate to what I am thinking about now? Skills:
• • • • •
What activities have I enjoyed doing? What are my strengths? What skills do I least enjoy using? Which skills and abilities would I most enjoy using at work or in school? What skills would I enjoy using that I need to still acquire? What are my natural talents?
Values: • What characteristics need to be present in your ideal job or career? • How does the way you live your life relate to your choice of major or career field? • What motivates you? • What are the five most important things in your life; how do you prioritize them? • When you look back on your life, what are you most proud about? • How would others describe you? What would they say you value? Personality • What is my attitude like? • How would others describe your personal qualities? • Do you prefer to primarily work alone or with others? • How does your personality relate to your choice of major and/or career field? • Do you prefer working with people, data or things? • What type of people do you feel most comfortable being around? Step 3: Begin to Identify Options (Career Exploration) Exploring the world of work and academic majors includes gathering additional information about ideas you are already considering as well as learning about new ideas and options you have not considered. Information is empowering. There are many sources of information about college majors and careers. • Are you creating time in your schedule to research and gather information? • Have you identified some of your options based upon what you have learned about yourself? • Are you able to write down the options you are considering in your choice of major or career field? • As you gather information, what additional options/alternatives have you discovered? Step 4: Factors Influencing Decisions As you enter into the process of deciding on an education and career plan, including your choice of a major and/or career field, you may experience factors, both positive and negative, that are impacting your ability to identify options, choose among alternatives, make a decision, or follow through with your choices. The staff in the Career Center is available to assist you with identifying internal and external influences to your decision-making process, including strategies
and resources for identifying and making your education and career decisions. • What internal and external factors are present that may influence your decision or your choice of alternatives. • What has been your experience with making decisions in the past? What decisions have you made in the past. How did you make those decisions? What resources helped you? What did you learn from past experiences? • Personal Factors: Has you considered how your options are compatible with your values, interests, skill preferences, personality, and other factors in their life? (health, financial, etc.) Step 5: Evaluate each Option/Alternative that will Best Address the Decision(s) to be Made After you have competed your career and/or educational research, including speaking with people in your field(s) of interest, you are now ready to identify and evaluate your options. • Are you able to assess the possible outcomes or consequences for the decisions to be made? • Have you identified the pros and cons for each alternative, while also considering the factors influencing your decision? • Are you able to identify your best possible alternative(s)? • Have you gathered enough information to evaluate your options? • Have you been able to evaluate the information/resources presently available? • Are there any new alternatives/options that you are able to identify from the new information? Step 6: Design a Course of Action to Implement the Decision(s) Based upon the information you have gathered and analyzed, you should now be in the position of choosing among several alternatives. In addition, it is time now to outline your course of action to implement your decision. It is helpful to identify the action-steps that are necessary for your to accomplish your goal. Be sure and consider several options or back-up plans for the primary decision you have made. • Have you outlined your plan of action? Are you able to identify action-steps to implement your decision? • Have you identified a timeline for your plan of action, including deadline dates? • Are there any internal and/or external obstacles to implementing your decision? Are you able to identify how you plan to overcome them? • Remember to reflect and evaluate throughout the implementation of your decision.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?