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How Adult Students Should Choose Their Major

OnSugar Blog: Tips on Choosing a Major For Adult Students

OnSugar blogger the college mom gives tips to adult students for choosing majors.

When I was an academic adviser, it never seemed to fail that at this time of the semester I would begin to see students coming to my office by the dozens searching for advice on choosing a major. I don't know what it is about this time but it really seems that students begin to focus on what course of study they should pursue right about now. It may have something to do with midterm exams taking place or it could be for a myriad of other reasons. Whatever the cause, now seems to be a time of great anxiety surrounding choosing a major. Let's discuss some ways to tackle the task and lessen the stress.

Take an Inventory

One of the first things I always recommend to students is taking a career inventory. A career inventory is kind of like a test that assesses your strengths, weaknesses and preferences and gives you a list of career types that may appeal to you. Career inventories don't tell you what you should do for a living; they merely produce ideas that may suit you based on your assessment results. Some examples of career inventories are the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory and the Strong Interest Inventory. See your career counselor or academic adviser for assistance in taking and interpreting such assessments.

Read on for more tips.

Talk to Professionals

Once you've got an idea of the kinds of jobs that may fit your personality and strengths, consider conducting an informational interview or job shadowing a professional in those fields. An informational interview is merely a set of questions about a job. Job shadowing is spending a day or more with someone on the job to get a better idea of what such a position entails. You could schedule a meeting in person or even by phone or email. Start by thinking of people you know personally in a particular career and ask them if you could talk to them about their job. If you don't know anyone, perhaps your adviser can help to set you up with a college alumni in your field of interest. You could even check the yellow pages and approach companies with your request. What's important is that you put yourself out there and get personal, relevant information. The more you know, the better decision you will make.

Take an Intro Course

Another great way to learn whether you'd be happy in a certain kind of job is to take an introductory course on the subject. For example, if you're considering a career in business, sign up for an Intro to Business Course. Chances are such a class will count towards your liberal studies credits or can be used as an elective. By taking a class, you'll get firsthand information on a subject and have access to the professor who can answer various career-related questions for you.

What I absolutely do not recommend is deciding on a major right away without researching your career choice or getting some sort of insight into the job. There's so much to consider about your career choice, including the work atmosphere, the amount of interaction on the job, the kind of knowledge expected, etc. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you must choose a major right away or else you risk wasting time and money on college. As I mentioned earlier, many classes count toward your liberal studies credits or as electives, so feel free to take the coursework needed to fill those credits while researching your ideal major.And, most importantly, don't think that just because you're older that you should have it all figured out. Very few of us do!

A very good career exploration model that I've personally worked with is CARISM. I've met the founders and feel it is an exceptional tool for finding out what you're good at and taking every aspect of a job into consideration. I wrote this article about CARISM that summarizes the program and its parts. Check it out, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have!

To read other great posts, visit the college mom blog. You can start your own OnSugar blog for a chance to be featured on the PopSugar Network.

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