By Tamara Gegg-LaPlume,
Career Specialist and
Ryan Barke, Academic Advisor
“I’m not sure why I’m paying money for my child’s
education when he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows
up!” Many parents echo this statement and find a bit of frustration
related to their child’s indecisiveness in choosing a major. Being
undecided about a college major and/or changing majors is very common.
Statistics vary, but approximately 80% of students will change majors
at least once in college and many change their majors an average of
three to five times. Try setting the frustration aside and allow your
son or daughter some time to further evaluate who he or she is and encourage
him or her to explore career options.
Some students are undecided about a choice of major because they don’t
have a thorough understanding of who they are, and they are unsure about
their strengths and interests. The Career Services office can meet with
students and assist them in outlining their values, interests, personality
preferences and skills (VIPS). VIPS can be identified through informal
discussions or through more formalized career assessments. In addition,
the Career Services office utilizes SIGI Plus, an on-line system of
career information that includes skill and interest inventories. Students
can access SIGI Plus through the Career Services web site located at http://www.webster.edu/homecampus/homes/career.html.
Exploring careers provides students with essential information about
options. There are a variety of books that outline specific career field
such as Great Jobs for Psychology Majors, Careers in Healthcare,
etc. These books can be easily accessed in most libraries. Similar career
information is available on-line by utilizing the Occupational Outlook
or O’Net (http://online.onetcenter.org/).
These resources provide descriptions of occupations, job outlook, salary
ranges and information about educational requirements. Students can
also familiarize themselves with career options by taking classes in
majors that interest them. The Academic Advising office can further
assist students with selecting courses. Additional information about
Academic Advising can be found at http://www.webster.edu/acadaffairs/asp/acad_advising.html.
Perhaps the most effective way for students to gain an understanding
of career options is through obtaining hands-on experience by volunteering,
job shadowing, or completing an internship. These experiences will either
validate a student’s decision or redirect the student to explore
alternate options. Again, the Career Services office can assist students
with the exploration phase of career choice by providing them with information
and assisting them in identifying potential employers to contact for
volunteering, job shadowing, or internship activities.
Choosing a major is a big decision and there is one key myth about
choosing a major that makes the decision seem daunting. There is a misconception
that a major leads to only one career. Actually, most careers are not
tied to specific majors. For example, people who major in English can
work as writers, teachers, fundraising coordinators, etc., and can work
in a variety of industries such as publishing, education, non-profit,
Whether your son or daughter is undecided about a major,
considering changing a major, or is interested in exploring career options,
he or she can contact the Career Services office. We are happy to assist
with making this major decision.
Phone: 314-968-6982 or 1-800-981-9805