The Major Decision
So, you’ve made it to Fort Lewis and you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do: going to classes, studying, and getting involved on campus. But when you talk to your family all they want to know is if you’ve chosen a major and what job you will get after graduation. How can you balance all the activities of college with the need to figure out a direction?
Relax! You aren’t alone and you still have time to decide what degree to pursue. In fact, nearly a quarter of Fort Lewis students begin college undecided and even more will change their major during their time here. The fact is: very few people know what career they want to have right out of high school. Many still won’t know by the time they receive their college degree.
The purpose of the liberal arts education offered by Fort Lewis isn’t to train you for a specific job, but to provide you with the skills, knowledge, and experiences to help you succeed wherever your life takes you. Even engineers and business majors find that although the information they received in college was outdated early in their careers, their education prepared them to deal with the changes and to stay ahead of the curve. While graduates don’t always work in a field directly related to their college major, they will use those experiences to guide them through new challenges and endeavors.
All of this doesn’t mean that choosing a major is easy or unimportant. It can be a difficult process requiring a great deal of thought and effort. However, if you are willing to put in the effort and work with the great resources on campus, you are likely to find a major that will suit your educational and career goals.
The best place to start looking for your major is within you! You are ultimately the one who will complete the coursework and get the education, so make it one that you think fits with you. In considering what a good major might be, think about your values, your interests, and your skills.
What you study and the career you follow after school will be more fulfilling to you if they fit with your values. The values you hold may focus on social and environmental issues, the lifestyle you want to lead, or the setting in which you hope to work. While your major isn’t the only way to represent your values, finding a subject that you are passionate about will make your coursework more engaging and your education more meaningful.
Your interests may indicate subjects that you would enjoy learning more about. What fascinates you and what topics excite you? If you choose a major with courses that interest you, you are more likely to be driven to succeed. Graduates who get degrees in majors they have little interest in may end up in careers that they have equally little interest in.
Finally, consider what majors are a good match for your skills and abilities. Some degree programs will require a great deal of mathematical ability, while others will require a great deal of writing, articulating complex ideas, or interpersonal communication. Knowing your strengths, and your weaknesses, can help narrow down what majors will fit you best.
Exploring your Options
Whatever stage of the decision process you’re at, you should seize upon opportunities to explore the majors offered at Fort Lewis. Here are a few of the ways you can check out your options before you declare a major:
- Schedule an appointment with an Academic Success Coach to talk about the opportunities available at Fort Lewis and how they might fit into your education.
- Meet with your faculty advisor. Talk about your options and get their feedback. If they aren’t knowledgeable in a certain subject, contact another faculty member by looking on the department webpage. Ask them about their discipline, the careers available, and what makes someone successful in the field.
- Look through the course catalog and mark what classes you are interested in taking. What majors have the most courses that interest you? Which ones don’t hold much interest?
- Take classes in a variety of departments and use your liberal arts core requirements to sample from areas you’re interested in.
- Talk to students in the majors you are thinking about. What drew them to the program and what experiences are they having?
- Find a professional in a field you’re interested in and ask if you can shadow them for a day. You can learn more about different careers at O*Net. Find out what skills they gained from their education and how they got to where they are.
- If you’re thinking about a particular career, visit the Career Services office for the school you’re interested in to get more information and develop a plan to achieve your goal.
For many of us, finding a major isn’t easy, but with a bit of effort and some help from the faculty and staff at Fort Lewis, every student can find a degree program that matches his or her goals.