Choosing a Major / Career

Walking You Through The Process Step by Step

Choosing a major/career can be the most difficult decisions college students face. Ideally, you’re looking for an occupation which you enjoy, have a natural talent for, and make enough money to support you and/or your family. Below we walk you through the process of choosing a major/career step by step. 

How to Choose a Major / Career

  • Self-assess & make a must haves list - Socrates said, “Know Thyself.” Before you can make a decision impacting your current and future self, you must know your current self and ideally a bit about your future self as well. Think about what kind of work you enjoy, what interests you, skills/talents you have, your personality, what kind of environment you’d like to be in, etc. and how that may change over the years. Use this knowledge to make a short list of musts such as you must be in a certain location, must make at least a certain salary, etc. This will help you reject any careers not meeting these criteria.
  • Use Focus 2 to help you self-assess. (First time users - use the code “spartan” to register).
  • Explore occupations & make a list to explore - Focus 2 is helpful as it enables Upstate students to explore occupations by major and compare occupations side by side. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is also helpful. Use them (and Google) to read over job descriptions, requirements, salary, and employment outlooks for professions and make a short list of occupations you’d like to explore.
  • Talk to the pros & narrow it down - Chat with faculty members, friends, family, friends of family, even students ahead of you in a specific field on what careers are like - the day to day work, education/ work requirements, salary, growth opportunities etc. For more details on this process - see Informational Interviews. Repeat this process until you have a few top occupations of interest and one to try out. 
  • Try it out  - You won’t know for sure you enjoy something until you do it. Part-time jobs/internships, volunteering, shadowing, research etc. can all be incredibly helpful. If you need help connecting with these opportunities, see our job search resources and naturally you’re welcome to contact us.
  • Decide or Repeat - If as a result of your work, you’re unable to reach a decision with which you’re confident, repeat these steps as necessary. 

Top 10 Factors to Consider in Evaluating a Major / Career:

  • Your passions and interests
  • Your natural talents
  • Your goals and values
  • Salaries and other benefits
  • Education Requirements
  • Employment Rates
  • Work – Life Balance
  • Opportunities for Advancement
  • A day in the life of a…
  • Location