Find Your Niche

Figuring out what you want to do with your life can be daunting and challenging. That is why many people go to college, to broaden their horizons in hopes of finding something that they are passionate about. Although, how do you get started with investigating the different options that college presents to you? At the end of the day, how do you finally choose what you want to major in? In today’s article we are going to discuss ways to find what you are passionate about, talk about helpful tips, and look at different resources offered by Virginia Tech.


Let us first look at some studies that have looked at why people choose certain college majors. As you may imagine, there could be many different factors that go into choosing a college major. For example, some might look to others for guidance such as parents, or some people might approach this effort more spontaneously while others are more deliberate and thoughtful (Galotti et al. 2006). Other things besides decision-making capabilities affect selecting a major. According to the 2013 academic article titled “Feeding the pipeline; Gender, occupational plans, and college major selection” from the academic journal Social Science Research, gender differences are a substantial factor in college major selection as well as “occupational plans” of high school seniors. Occupational plans refers to what route high school seniors are planning to take after graduation. Are they going to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, etc. (Morgan et al. 2013). Think back to when you were a senior in high school, did you have a plan of what you wanted to do in college? Did you already have a major in mind? Think about the factors that drive you when making decisions.


Researching Majors

Now that we have looked at a couple of different studies that look at why people choose certain college majors, let's look at some helpful tips and resources Virginia Tech offers.


It is perfectly normal to not know exactly what you want to do when you enter your freshman year of college. Many students start off as undecided in college and take their freshman year to find what they like and where their strengths lie. The first piece of advice to give is to research college majors that Virginia Tech offers. This is a great start, because it allows you to see the variety of options Virginia Tech has to offer.


While conducting your research, there are a few questions you should ask yourself, such as:

  • What is going to be expected of me entering this major? This can refer to time commitment or skills.

  • What types of coursework should I expect from this major? Are there a lot of essays, papers, or group projects?

  • What minors does the college this major falls under offer and what minors do people in this major typically pursue?

These are a few basic questions you can begin to ask when researching different majors.

Who Am I?

Another way to help you determine a major is to complete self assessments in order to explore your values, personality, skills, strengths, etc. Let’s first understand what self-assessments are available to you. According to Virginia Tech’s career and professional development website, self-assessments are not meant to “tell you what to be,” but instead are supposed to highlight interests, personality, skills, and values. By learning these four aspects, it will allow you to better understand which major would lead to a career path which you would find yourself most successful. Virginia Tech’s career and professional development does offer free self-assessment tests which you can use to get started to learn more about yourself.


Explore Different Career Paths

The next step in your research process is to look at different career options in the major/majors you are interested in. While researching different careers, it is important to look to multiple different sources to get a variety of different opinions and views.

Virginia Tech offers advising in two different areas:

  1. Career and internship for undergraduate majors

  2. Career and professional development advising.

There is also Hokie Mentorship Connect which allows students to contact Virginia Tech alumni in order to receive career advice. Another great way to explore different career options is to attend job fairs. Virginia Tech has multiple different career fairs, but the biggest is Business Horizons, which takes place once in the fall and spring semester each academic year. Even as a freshman, it is recommended that you attend these job fairs to walk around and talk to different companies. It might not land you an internship at the time, but the experience is great for when you will be attending these fairs in the future when looking for an internship or full-time position. It is always great to start practicing early!


Remember, as a member of CWIB, you have a network of your own. CWIB allows you to connect with other college students and women who are either currently in your shoes or were at one point unsure what they wanted to major in too. As mentioned earlier, choosing a college major can be challenging, especially when you do not know where to start. Luckily for us Hokies, Virginia Tech offers great services to help students figure out what they want to major in. After doing some of your own research, a great place to visit Virginia Tech’s Career and Professional development website found here. CWIB is always a resource you can look to for professional and major advice as well. At the end of the day, choosing your major is your decision, so it is important to choose what is best for you.


By: Ashley Mattson




References


Galotti, K. M., Ciner, E., Altenbaumer, H. E., Geerts, H. J., Rupp, A., & Woulfe, J. (2006). Decision-making styles in a real-life decision: Choosing a college major,Personality and Individual Differences. 41(4), 629-639. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2006.03.003 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886906001206


Morgan, S. L., Gelbgiser, D., & Weeden, K. A. (2013). Feeding the pipeline: Gender, occupational plans, and college major selection. Social Science Research,42(4), 989-1005. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2013.03.008. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X13000598

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