“What do you want to do when you grow up?” This is the age-old question…
Deciding a college major can seem like a daunting task–after all, it means you are choosing your life’s work, right? Some independent educational consultants specialize in interest, personality and career assessments. Many students just don’t know where to start in picking a major or exploring careers. Of course, a good place to begin is with your high school college counseling website. Some high schools use Career Cruising, some use Naviance. There is no one best way to begin. You may find it helpful to explore other resources. Two government websites to check out are O*Net.gov and the Occupational Outlook Handbook. They each become much more useful if you have some help from a qualified career counselor.
Here are some common questions about choosing majors and exploring careers.
1. “What if I already know my college major?”
If you really do know what you want to do/be/major in, then a professional assessment will reinforce those decisions. Also, under the guidance of a trained counselor, you’ll
- *expand your understanding of your strengths
- *broaden your view of occupations and how to prepare for them
- *receive realistic, unbiased feedback
2. “Will a career assessment tell me something I don’t already know?”
Many students take the assessment, read the results once, agree or disagree, and set that information aside forever. The assessment is a tool that requires skill to use effectively! A counselor trained in those skills will help you mine the treasure of information that you can use over and over again in your life.
3. “Do I really need to decide a college major before my junior year of college?”
The answer is, “It depends!” By all means, embrace those general eds! They are the foundation of your lifelong education! AND, when you participate in a class knowing more about yourself, your learning takes on a new dimension, particularly as it relates to your future career.
4. “Don’t my grades tell me my strengths?”
The amazing thing aptitude assessments is that they tell you so much more about yourself! A good assessment guides you in refining what you know generally, and a good career coach helps you discover strengths you didn’t know. You can explore in more depth the options and opportunities that your talents and interests provide, particularly in how you might plan for careers of the future. A coach can help you look at all facets of your personality and talents and discover things that you may not have recognized. I good coach will always be encouraging, not limiting.
5. “Won’t I get a better idea of my college major once I start college?”
Yes, you will! And, you will better manage and utilize this knowledge if you explore it earlier than your first year of college. Choices about majors, careers, and colleges become very expensive if you’re testing them for the first time while paying hefty college tuition bills.
For most people, the task of career exploration will not end with high school graduation nor with college graduation. The tools of career assessment can aid you in your career exploration and decisions throughout your lifetime.