Dear Ally,

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Is your major for you?

Dear Ally,

I hope that your classes are going well so far and your semester is off to a good start!

I am teaching one class this semester, sophomore organic chemistry. I don’t know if it’s the difficult nature of my class or a typical second year issue, but I’ve had two conversations this week with two different students questioning their career goals and considering other options.

Perhaps you or your classmates are going through the same thing. You’re starting to get into the real courses in your major and maybe it’s not exactly what you expected. You may not graduate in four years if you change majors, but it’s better to realize now that it’s not a good fit, than after you get your first job and find you hate it and end up going back for a second degree. Your uncle spent 6 years in undergrad because he changed from accounting to chemistry. I had a hard time deciding between chemistry and an education major and was discouraged from double majoring. I chose chemistry, but still wanted to teach, so I went on for a doctorate, so I could teach at the college level. Ten years into our careers we’re both managing people, which is very different from what each of us started out doing.

If you’re having trouble deciding to stick with your major or not:

  • Try out a variety of different classes. This is the beauty of a liberal arts education. You’re expected to take courses in different departments and fields of study, so take advantage of this and take courses in other areas that interest you. You might find a new major or maybe a fun new hobby like I did when I took ornithology, which I refer to as “the bird class.”
  • Get experience outside of the classroom. What you’re doing in class, which is usually foundational and theoretical, may be different from the day to day life of someone in your future career. Find out what it will be like by interviewing, shadowing, or interning with a person in the field. I’ve heard stories of nursing students who changed their majors once they got to clinicals because they found out nurses have to actually touch people.
  • Talk with a licensed career counselor. If your school has a career services center, make an appointment to receive career counseling. They can help you by giving you a personality test like the Myers Briggs or the Strong Interest Inventory. Some of these are available for free on-line. I took this 10 question quiz and it told me I have a social personality and that I would enjoy education, but that I should not become a truck driver.
  • Find your passion. Think about you would enjoying doing even if you didn’t get paid to do it.

horse plague.jpg

(This hung on my wall throughout my childhood.)

Hope this helps you either solidify the choice you’ve already made or discover a new career path.

Best,

Aunt Sarah

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