Upon entering college, the pressure to choose a field of undergraduate study may seem overwhelming. Many mistakenly believe that this major will dictate the pathway of your life, when really it will become the foundation for any career. If you are feeling that your major is not a reflection of your interests, perhaps it is time for a change. According to MSNBC, approximately 50% of college students change their major at least once. If you do decide to change majors, take some time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
Are you considering a major change? If so, here are some steps you can take to help you reach your decision:
1.) Make a list of your interests. Do they match any of the classes that you have taken?
2.) Visit UVM’s list of majors and minors
3.) Run a Cat’s Audit Report, then a “What If” Audit. Those can be helpful if you are looking to see what academic requirements you will need to graduate.
4.) Set up a meeting with your advisor, and also with a department faculty or staff in programs of interest to discuss your thoughts about changing majors. This is especially important if you are looking to transfer to a different college/school.
5.) Come to Career Services Drop-In hours to speak with a counselor (Monday- Thursday, 1-4 in L/L E-140; Tuesdays 11-1 in Rosa Parks Room, Davis Center)
6.) Become involved in clubs, volunteer, and/or work experiences that will allow you to gauge whether this is a field you would enjoy. Seasonal or part time experience is a good start.
7.) Make sure that all of the proper paperwork is filed with the UVM Registrar’s office
Some students may feel that their major and GPA brand them for life. Such fears can be only exacerbated by the recent recession and an uncertain job market. But these two labels are not an undergraduate’s most defining characteristics and putting too much emphasis on them may cause unneeded stress.
Zac Bissonnette, guest writer for the New York Times, gives several great reasons why students shouldn’t let money be the deciding factor in choosing their course of study. Firstly, students are more likely to succeed in their major field if it is something they are passionate about. Secondly, and perhaps most interestingly, research has shown that an individual’s earnings do not significantly differ across majors.
Although it depends on the industry, for many employers, GPA is not nearly as important as something like relevant internships, according to Laura Morsch of CareerBuilder.com. She cites a 2005 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ “which found that 70 percent of hiring managers do not report screening applicants based on their GPA.”
Heather Huhman, a writer for the Examiner, explains that a GPA is a fallback for employers looking to pare down the plethora of applications they receive for a job. The solution? Find other ways to set yourself apart from the crowd, such as communicating experiences that exemplify leadership, creativity or entrepreneurship.
With course registration upon us, many students are turning their attention to the topic of majors. Some have declared a major but may be reconsidering it, and others have explored different topical areas by taking a diverse array of classes but still aren’t sure which major is right for them. So at a University that offers over 100 majors (and even more in minors), how do you find your academic fit?
The University of Vermont Career Services website has some good tools for the exploration, but these are only one part of your toolkit. There’s a whole community of resources available to you as you make this decision, and it’s important that you gather as much information as you need to make your choice comfortably before settling. Here are some ideas:
Set-up meetings with faculty and student services staff to talk more about particular major(s) of interest
Continue taking classes in subject areas that excite you
Talk to a career counselor during Drop-In Hours:
-Mondays – Thursdays, 1:00 – 4:00 pm (L/L E-140)
-Tuesdays, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm (Rosa Parks Room, Davis Center)
It’s important to enjoy the process of choosing a major. It can be stressful at times, but remember that college is a great time for exploration. As Joseph Campbell once said, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty ‘yes’ to your adventure.”
Intern: Beryl Frishtick Class Year: 2013 Major: English Internship Title: Editorial Intern (at the Atria and Emily Bestler Books imprints) Company: Simon & Schuster Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com/
Briefly tell us about the organization you were with: Simon & Schuster is a world-renowned publishing company with offices in NYC, London, Australia, and India. I worked in the NYC headquarters near 30 Rock. S&S publishes all types of books, including adult fiction, memoir, celebrity authors, young adult novels, children’s books, and of course e-books.
How would you describe the various projects you did for your organization to someone whois unfamiliar with your field? I mainly worked on three types of projects. The first was to read manuscript submissions and either write rejection letters or pass them up the food chain to my supervisors if I really liked them. The second project was writing flap copy, which is the text you find on the back of a book that gives you a taste of the plot. The third was actually editing books, going through them line by line and looking for grammar mistakes and plot inaccuracies.
What did you like best about this internship? What was most challenging? The best part of my internship was definitely editing novels, because I had the chance to go through the manuscript on my own then sit down with Emily Bestler, the senior editor, and go through both our copies page by page.
The most challenging part about the internship was writing rejection letters, because when I first started I was hesitant and didn’t feel comfortable with that sort of power. But as I learned more and more about the publishing industry, I felt better able to craft rejection letters and I worked to include as much constructive criticism as possible.
How did you gain credit for this internship? I enrolled in Mary Beth Barritt’s EDSS course to receive one credit, since Simon & Schuster mandates that their interns receive credit in order to work there but I did not actually need the credit to graduate.
What impact did this internship have on your career direction? Because of my hands-on experience this summer with Simon & Schuster, I am definitely considering going into the publishing industry.
What advice do you have for students searching for internships? Try to find contacts at companies you wish to work for. Nine times out of ten that is how people find jobs, by knowing someone. It’s frustrating but it’s true.
Why should students do an internship? Interning, especially away from your home or college town, makes you a more responsible person. It’s great practice for future careers, and it’s also a lot of fun.
In the movie Forrest Gump (1994), Forrest befriends Bubba, a soldier with a passion for shrimp. In a scene from the movie, Bubba explains the many ways shrimp can be prepared:
Just like the many options that exist for preparing shrimp, there is a wide array of possibilities for college majors. You will invest much of your time and energy into the major of your choice, so it should be something that excites you. Additionally, you probably want to know that the major you choose will lead to gainful employment that keeps you satisfied beyond your years in the classroom.
You should feel empowered to study what you love, in spite of the myths that exist that may make it scary to do this:
Myth: You’ll never get the job you want unless you pick the “right” major. Truth: Students across all academic disciplines land exciting jobs every day!
Myth: Everyone in my life will disown me if I choose the “wrong” major. Truth: While your choice of major may prove to be shocking to others in your life at first, you will find encouragement and support from others throughout your process.
It is important to explore your options. UVM has a very rich, diverse curriculum and faculty and staff who are here to support your learning. You can also research possible majors and career outcomes by using the resources offered by Career Services, and outside resources (such as MyMajors.com). You should gather as much information as you need to make your decision comfortably and confidently.
If you are a current UVM student and want to talk more about choosing a major, please come to drop-in hours at Career Services, L/L E-140, Monday- Thursday from 1-4, or at the Davis Center on Tuesdays from 11-1, in Rosa Parks Place.