Choosing Your Program
Common “major” myths:
- "Picking a major and a career is the same thing."
- "The major I pick now will determine my lifelong career."
- "Whatever major I pick I will be stuck with it."
You’ve probably heard or thought about these statements before but it’s time to forget about the myths and focus on the facts.
- 20-50% of all students entering university are undecided about their major
- 50-70% of students change their major at least once during their studies
- Most individuals will change their positions and careers 6-7 times over a lifetime
If you’re wondering how to choose your academic program, the following questions will help you to evaluate your values, interests and skills and ultimately help you make a decision you can feel confident about.
1. Start with exploring your values
Examine your values as they relate to academia, work, career and lifestyle.
- What is it that you value in obtaining a degree and coming to university?
- What or who are the most important things in your life?
- What do you value most about who you are at this point in your life?
- What do you want to achieve during your time at university? (could include academic, extra-curricular, social and personal fulfillment)
- In what ways must you be challenged and rewarded in a job?
- Describe a successful university graduate. What is it that you value about them?
2. What are your interests?
Your interests can help you understand the courses and programs where you would enjoy using your skills and abilities. In studying something that you enjoy, you will be able to achieve your potential.
- Do you prefer to work with people, data or things? Prioritize these things in order of importance.
- What subjects interested you in high school?
- What activities do you take part in? What do you learn about yourself when you’re engaged in these activities?
- What types of people do you find interesting and engaging?
- Can you describe environments that you have enjoyed being in?
- What section of the newspaper do you enjoy reading? When you go to a bookstore which sections do you find most intriguing?
3. What are your skills/abilities?
When choosing a program it is important to evaluate the skills that you will develop by being a student in that department. When you graduate employers will ask you about the skills you have learned and developed throughout your education and work experience.
- What subjects have you excelled in? Have these been areas in which you always tend to do well?
- What accomplishments are you proud of?
- Ask anyone who knows you well to share with you what your best qualities and strengths are. Also ask about your weaknesses.
- What are your top three skills?
- What are the skills that you would develop in the program areas you are considering majoring in? (Check out our Careers By Major database for information on programs and skills)
Employers emphasize that they look for students who are well-rounded. One, who has successfully completed a university degree, developed a diverse set of skills and has participated in activities such as extra-curricular involvements, part-time or summer jobs or volunteering. Employers expect that you have an understanding of how to learn, which is achieved through the completion of your degree.
Tips for success:
- Choose a program which will enable you to develop a broad skill set
- Begin to explore career areas and industries in which you have interests
- The skills you develop in university are transferable
- You have the option to change and/or enroll in new programs