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Tips for Choosing the Right Major

student studying in classroom

Are you choosing the right major? Are you undecided? It can be difficult to choose or decide just what you want to study. Especially with the variety of majors offered at SAU, It can be nerve-wracking! But I can assure you that when you find what you want to do and choose the major in line with it, it’s very comforting. My hope for you is that this post will help you figure out what career you want to pursue and what major to choose. I will share my own story, as well as the stories of other students who came in undecided. 

Coming into SAU, I was 100% sure I wanted to be a science teacher. I started out as a Secondary Education major with a focus in Integrated Sciences. One semester went by and I liked it, but I got thinking about my future and if teaching was truly my “thing.” I asked myself, do I want to be responsible for more than 10 kids? The answer to that was… not really. I realized with that question that maybe teaching wasn’t for me. So I thought about going into social work, chemistry, and business.

The first helpful tip I found along the way is to ask people close to you and reach out to people you may know who work in a career you are considering. They will be able to give you a better idea of what to expect, plus they’ll give you good insight into the good, the bad and the ugly. When I was thinking about social work, I went to my mom who works in the social work department at SAU. She recommended that I should job shadow someone, but mentioned that there are some really challenging parts of being a social worker. Some things that would be difficult for me that might make me not enjoy being a social worker. 

My second tip is don’t do something just because you think it’s cool. Work out what you’re strengths and weaknesses are, and look up careers related to those. I thought about maybe doing something science-related. Since I loved chemistry, I looked into various careers in chemistry. I found one that interested me — a forensic toxicologist. I did a lot of research into the field and decided that it probably wasn’t the best fit for me. I realized that I only liked it because I thought it would be a cool thing to say I did. So don’t do something because it sounds cool.

Now, my third and final idea — business. I know what you’re thinking, “how did she go from education to business?” Ever since I was in middle school, I loved looking at houses and loved the thought of being a realtor. I ended up job shadowing my aunt, who is a realtor, and I loved almost everything about it! I went to Chad Melton and had him help me with changing my major to Business Administration, with an endorsement in Marketing, and another in Photography. At first, I wasn’t planning on having two endorsements, but Chad Melton had pointed out a few things they would help me in for realty! I am very proud of the choice I made and I am so excited for my future! 

My third tip would be to talk to the Director of Career Development and Advising, Chad Melton. Chad teaches the SDL 100 class, a class intended for students who are undecided about their major and want some guidance. Chad was such a huge help for me throughout my process, as he offered many insights and helpful tips. I would also suggest reaching out to your advisors and even any professors that you are close with. 

Interviews with previously undecided students:

How did SDL 100 help you choose the major you have now?
  • Student 1: It showed me all of the program options we have on campus and helped me rule out ones I didn’t like and see the ones I would be interested in.
  • Student 2: SDL 100 helped me choose my major by explaining what all the majors include and it helped me narrow it down and eliminate the ones I didn’t want to do. From there I was able to focus on researching the ones I was interested in.
What made you choose your major now?
  • Student 1: It honestly felt right. I prayed about it and God gave me so much clarity that this was the path he wanted me to choose. I met with a professor and I shadowed someone in my field and I asked a lot of questions, and it made me more confident about the path I’m now on.
  • Student 2: I ended up majoring in social work and minoring in biblical studies. I always thought it would be awesome to do some kind of missionary/humanitarian job and incorporate my faith into it. I didn’t know a whole lot about what social work was, but then I learned you can do international social work with Christian nonprofits. There are so many different things you can do to help people, and the field is just so vast, I felt God was calling me to major in it. For my minor, I’ve always had a lot of interest in studying the Bible and it’s something I really enjoy, so I decided to minor in it.
What advice would you give to an undecided major or someone unsure of their major?
  • Student 1: Pray about it, meet with professors and advisors from different departments and ask questions. Shadow someone in the field you are interested in and ask them questions! Look at job opportunities and ask questions! Listen to the answers and evaluate if that is something you can handle or not. 
  • Student 2: I would say it’s okay to not know what you want to do, you don’t have to rush. Find out what you are passionate about and be okay with trying new things and know it’s alright if you end up wanting to do something else after a while. You can also take intro classes in different majors you are thinking about that will give you a better idea of if this is something you want to stick with. If you are able to, talk with upperclassmen in your major of interest as well. Sometimes God might have us do something for a season and then call us to it later.

Interview with Chad Melton: 

What are some of the things that you do in SDL 100?
  • “Explore a biblical understanding of calling, vocation and work. We help students explore their personal strengths, interests and professional values related to career exploration and decision-making. Learn about the various academic programs offered at SAU.” 
Is the class that undecided majors are required to take, exclusive to undecided majors or could students with a current major take it as well?
  • “Students who have a declared major can still take SDL100 if they feel unconfident about their decision. If a student is undeclared, but they are wavering between two majors, they do not have to take SDL100. They may take a class in both areas instead.”
What is some advice that you would give to undecided majors or prospective students to help them decide on a major?
  • “Job Shadowing and informational interviews with people working in areas of interest can be beneficial. This will provide a deeper understanding of what those areas will be like. Also, starting college is a lot of transition in itself. It can be helpful to start school undeclared and complete general education requirements to give time to reflect well on this decision.”
What are some things you would recommend doing to help solidify a choice in a major? 
  • “Spend time with faculty in the area and upper-level classes. Sitting in on classes can help as well.”

There are many things you can do to help you decide on your major and many people to help you as well. Whether it’s job shadowing, connecting with professors and faculty, or praying, there is a way for you to find the right major for you. It may not be easy, but you will find the right path. I recommend that even if you do have a declared major and you are not 100% sure it’s what you want to do, take SDL100! You do not have to know exactly what you want to do as soon as possible, but there are lots of resources for you here that can help you! Absolutely no rush, and good luck out there! You’ve got this.

Written by SAU Marketing student Xandria Stephenson.