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Choosing a Major: What You Need to Know. A Workshop for Undecided Students University College Chubb Hall 140 740.593.1935 Originally created by Tammy Kahrig, Ph.D.; revised 2006. Guiding Principle.

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choosing a major what you need to know

Choosing a Major:What You Need to Know

A Workshop


Undecided Students

University College

Chubb Hall 140


Originally created by Tammy Kahrig, Ph.D.; revised 2006

guiding principle

Guiding Principle

“Pick your major on the pleasure principle, for what you most enjoy studying will draw your mind in the liveliest way to being educated.”

Rev. James T. Burtchaell

  • I. Myths and Facts
  • II. Kinds of Majors
  • III. Points to Consider
  • IV. Steps to Choosing a Major

V. Conclusion/Evaluation

do you know
Do You Know
  • Nearly 1/3 of students enter college as undecided, and of those who enter with a major, 60-70% change majors at least once.
  • It is best to explore majors and then be able to make an INFORMED decision about your major.
choosing a major takes time
Choosing a major takes time.

You need to begin taking steps now to make that decision.

you must declare a major by the time you reach 75 hours
You must declare a major by the time you reach 75 hours
  • At that time, a hold will be placed on your registration, until you have transferred into a major.
  • Be sure to meet with your advisor well in advance of this event.
keep in mind
Keep in Mind
  • Many programs have selective admission requirements and deadlines that can impact your options for majors.
the big myth choosing a major choosing a career
The Big MythChoosing a Major = Choosing a Career
  • Fact: Major does not equal career for most fields. Research indicates only 50% of college graduates report a close relationship between their major and their job.
  • Fact: Survey of 2005 OU graduates* found

44% working in business

(only 10% of those grads had degrees from the College of Business)

25% working in education-related fields

13% working in health care/social welfare

  • You are NOT choosing what to do with the “rest of your life.”

Research shows that people will change their careers a minimum of 3-5 times over their lifespan.

*Source: Office of Institutional Research, Career and Further Education Survey 2005 Graduates

different kinds of majors
Different Kinds of Majors
  • Career Specific

Specific preparation for a particular job or occupation. For licensure or certification in a profession or for highly specialized/technical fields.

Ex: education, social work, engineering

*Source: University of Minnesota Career Development Center.

Career Related

Aimed at a specific field of employment but not at a particular job. Enter employment at a trainee level.

Ex: journalism, general business, sport management, exercise physiology, telecommunications, family studies

Non Career Specific

Not oriented toward employment in a specific career or particular field. Combined with related experience, results in a career-related degree.

Ex: psychology, history, English, communication studies, political science

other points to consider
Other Points to Consider
  • 192 hours required for a degree; most majors only have 50-60 in the major dept.
  • The name of your major is a very thin line on your resume. The largest part of your resume is what you’ve done. “Your resume is more about who you are than what your degree is.”
top ten qualities skills employers seek
Top Ten Qualities/Skills Employers Seek*

1. Communication Skills (verbal & written)

2. Honesty and Integrity

3. Strong Work Ethic

4. Analytical Skills

5. Flexibility and Adaptability

6. Interpersonal Skills (relating well to others)

7. Motivation and Initiative

8. Computer Skills

9. Detail Orientation

10. Organizational Skills

*Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers, Job Outlook 2006.

how can you obtain demonstrate these qualities
How can you obtain/demonstrate these qualities?

(see the pink handout)

Student Organizations

Summer Jobs

Community Service/Volunteer Campus Jobs


Course Projects and Papers

how to choose your major
How to Choose Your Major
  • Step One:
    • Assess your interests, abilities, and values
Step Two:
    • Explore Majors

and Careers

Step Three
    • Narrow your choices, select your major, and develop experience.
to make a good decision you need good information and lots of it
To make a good decision, you need good information, and lots of it.

Step One:

  • Self AssessmentIdentify your interests, abilities, and values.
    • Fill out the College/Career Choice

Checklist (white handout)

    • Complete Internet assessments.

Internet Addresses are on the blue handout.

Talk to those who know you best.
    • What insights do they have about your strengths and weaknesses?
*Meet with an advisor in University College and/or a Career Counselor in Career Services, to help you interpret the information you have gathered.
step two explore majors and careers
Step two:Explore Majors and Careers
  • What majors are available at Ohio University?
  • You may not know which you want, but you likely know many that you do NOT want.
review the ou majors by college green sheet
Review the OU Majors by College (green) sheet.
  • Cross off those that you know for sure you have no interest in.
  • Circle those that you would like to know more about.
Which minors/certificates are of interest to you?
  • How do these majors, minors, and certificates relate to the information you have learned about yourself?
gather information on majors of interest
Gather Information on Majors of Interest
  • What are the classes that you would have to take? Read titles and course descriptions in the OU catalog.
  • What are the requirements to get accepted into this major? See the Changing Your Major (yellow) sheet.
Ask yourself: “Is my accumulative GPA sufficient for me to gain entry into this major in a reasonable time frame?”
  • If the major is selective, what other majors are related/similar to this major?
  • Try out an introductory course in the major.
explore careers
Explore Careers
  • Consult
    • the “What can I do with a major in…?” section in Great Web Sites for Undecided Students (blue sheet)
    • the Opportunities in____________ books at Career Services, 533 Baker Center
    • other career books at Career Services, 533 Baker Center
    • the Career Services website:
    • faculty advisors in the majors you are interested in
step three narrow your choices
Step Three:Narrow Your Choices
  • Review information. Consider both positive and negative aspects of each option.
  • What majors seem to fit best with your interests, abilities, and values?
what additional information do you need
What additional information do you need?

Career Information:

-Meet with a career counselor in Career Services, 533 Baker Center.

Academic/Major Information:

-Meet with an advisor in University College, Chubb 140.

meet with an advisor to confirm and finalize your decision
Meet with an advisor to confirm and finalize your decision.

University College

Chubb Hall 140


8-5 M-F

(Evening appts. with some advisors)

declare your major and develop experience
Declare Your Major and Develop Experience
  • See Changing Your Major (yellow handout) for deadlines and application procedures.
  • Work with your new advisor to plan for graduation.
Seek opportunities such as student organizations, summer jobs, community service, internships, etc. (pink handout)
  • Work with Career Services, 533 Baker Center, to plan for your career.
remember the guiding principle
Remember the Guiding Principle

“Pick your major on the pleasure principle,

for what you most enjoy studying

will draw your mind in the liveliest way

to being educated.”

-Rev. James T. Burtchaell