Many students begin the exploration process with some misconceptions about how to choose a major and the impact that choice will have on their future careers. Here are realities behind these common myths. Also, each myth includes a link to expand on the reality.
Myth 1: My major will determine my career.
Reality: While some majors strongly relate to certain career options, most majors are much less related to a particular career field or industry. Most employers care more about your work-related experience and skills than they do about your major. Your education at UT will provide you the opportunity to acquire transferable skills employers are looking for in well-rounded candidates, such as problem-solving, written and oral communication, critical and creative thinking. Keep in mind that you do not need to decide on a life-long career field when choosing a major; one major can lead to many different careers, and one career can be reached through many different majors. Most college graduates are likely to change jobs and career fields several times in their lives. As you grow in your professional career, you will continue to develop skills and identify areas in the workforce that match your interests.
Does the College Major Matter? Not Really in The New York Times
Myth 2: Everyone else has already decided on his or her major, and I’m the only one who hasn’t.
Reality: While some students enter college with a particular major in mind, most will change their minds about their majors several times before graduation. In fact, the vast majority of entering college students admit they are uncertain about what they want to study, even if they have initially declared a major. The thing to remember is that everyone processes and makes decisions differently. Deciding on your major should be done at your own pace, so if you’re unsure, realize that is normal.
Why Undecided Is Ok by Huffington Post
Myth 3: I should decide on a major based on my strongest skills.
Reality: Yes, a critical step in the academic exploration process is to conduct an honest assessment of your academic strengths and skills to gauge potential success in a certain major. However, your skills are just one component of a comprehensive self-evaluation. It is equally important that your choice of major aligns with your interests, values and passions. Remember that college will help you expand your knowledge and skill set; however, you will be best positioned for academic success if you are interested and engaged in what you’re learning. What problems do you want to solve? Start exploring there.
FOCUS2: use password “Gateways” and your UT email to explore your skills, values and interests.
Myth 4: If I don’t decide on a major now, I won’t be able to graduate on time.
Reality: Since all UT students are required to complete Baccalaureate Experience courses in addition to their major course requirements, it is possible to complete degree requirements in four years even if you are undecided when you begin. The time it takes to complete your degree does depend on when you declare a major and which major you declare, because some majors have more required credit hours and prerequisite courses than others. You are encouraged to explore and declare at the pace that is right for you, but if you’re concerned about your timeline, seek assistance to ensure you understand your options. The exploration specialist can serve as a guide to help you meet important benchmark requirements for certain majors. According to the University catalog, all students are required to declare a major by the time they earn 60 credit hours in order to promote timely degree completion.
UT degrees and programs: explore credit requirements for potential majors
Myth 5: Liberal arts and humanities majors have limited career options.
Reality: Although some people assume students who major in the arts, humanities or social sciences have fewer career paths, this is not the case. These majors will provide graduates valuable training in writing, research, critical reasoning and interpersonal communication. These transferable skills are highly sought after by employers across all industries. In other words, these students learn how to learn, which can be applied to all work environments. Students with these majors can find meaningful work in business, research, human resources, government agencies and many other fields.
A Liberal Arts Degree Leads to a Career, Not Just a Job by Huffington Post
Myth 6: I should choose a major in a field that is currently hiring.
Reality: The job market fluctuates constantly due to changes in economic conditions, technological development and the labor supply. Jobs that exist and are hiring today may be very different or obsolete in the future, with new jobs emerging all the time. You will likely switch jobs and even careers multiple times throughout your lifetime, meaning the correlation between your undergraduate major and your career will lessen over time. Focusing on the development of transferrable skills will help you adjust to rapidly changing career opportunities, so think of what you really want to study rather than only considering specific jobs you see majors leading toward.
Ten Jobs That Didn’t Exist 10 Years Ago by Kiplinger
Myth 7: The best way to find out about a major is to take a class in it.
Reality: Taking an introductory course is one way to learn about a particular major, but it may not be the best way, especially if you are at the beginning of the exploration process. One reason is that some introductory courses will not give you a complete idea of what the major is like. For example, taking BUS 101 will not tell you just how much math is required of business majors. Also, if you take a course to determine your interest in the major and then decide against that major, you will have eliminated that major, but you have not chosen one. Deciding on majors by eliminating them one course at a time is inefficient and time-consuming. You can learn a great deal about a major by browsing through department websites, the course catalog and online databases. Don’t forget, you are in the age of instant communication; the Internet is home to an endless supply of information about all majors!
What Can I Do With This Major? is a great site to connect majors to career options.
Myth 8: I can take all of my Baccalaureate Experience courses before deciding on a major.
Reality: While UT’s Baccalaureate Experience core curriculum allows you to explore different academic disciplines, it is recommended you select your Baccalaureate Experience courses carefully to meet all of your goals. You should try to take at least one course required for a possible major during your freshman year. Some majors take longer to complete due to a high number of credits and/or structured prerequisites. Starting on these requirements will help ensure timely graduation. Meeting with the exploration specialist can help you with the selection of courses during your exploration semesters.
Use the summary of Baccalaureate Experience Requirements to design your first few semesters.