1 – Family Influence – Throughout our lives, parents and family members influence our considerations for college, advanced degrees and career outcomes. Their involvement and discussions may or may not support specific areas of study the student finds of interest. The work done by parents or extended family members may set an expectation for the college student and therefore the selection of a college major is predetermined by family dynamics. Knowing where family influence comes from can support an open range of major areas of study or it can create an expectation that may or may not fit.
2 – Media Impact – Television programs like CSI, Law and Order, or The Closer have created increased demand for degrees in Criminal Justice. However, enjoying a television program doesn’t make it a good career fit. Understanding the requirements of the courses and the potential career opportunities that are related to these courses can help in determining a good fit and major area of study.
3 – Values – Knowing yourself and what you value is an important factor in choosing a major area of study. Whether it is time management, making a difference for others, religion, recognition, physical challenges or spending time with family or friends, these and many others are key factors in considering career directions and major areas of study.
4 – Interests – Interest surveys are great tools for beginning a process of determining career direction and major areas of study. Because interests can change due to our experiences, it is good to take them periodically. While interests may shift, you may also find a trend develops with one or two.
5 – Natural Abilities – Natural Abilities are the way in which we are hardwired. Like our fingerprints, they are part of who we are and they do not change. They appear as the things we do naturally and easily. They impact the way we learn, interact with others, the environment we feel most comfortable at work. Natural abilities are driving forces within each of us and can be capitalized on for maximum performance and satisfaction or we can work against them and question why we are not as happy in our chosen careers.
6 – Goals – Having clearly defined goals can help in choosing college majors. Do your goals require 4 years or 8 years of school? Do you have a financial plan to support those goals? Will the outcome of your major area of study provide career opportunities based on labor trends, where you choose to live and your social or cultural expectations? Clearly defined goals along with a financial plan will assist in meeting the challenges of completing an “on time” degree as well as reduce potential costs associated with changing majors and prolonged graduation dates.