The pressure to choose a career path can start as early as junior high, but there's no reason to force the issue. College students routinely explore three to four majors before graduating, and adults often switch careers.
Choosing a major doesn't lock you into one profession. Whether you don't know your interests or feel like you enjoy too many activities to narrow down your options, there's no reason to hyperventilate. Take a deep breath, then follow these tips when choosing a major:
1. Know your options. A literature degree won't limit you to academia; in fact, English majors learn skills that can be useful in a wide range of jobs, from administrative work to teaching to technical editing.
Some online tools help students learn about the options available to them during school and after graduation. One Web site, RoadMap4Life.com, questions users about their interests, then matches any one of 2,300 possible careers to their profile. Users can discover information about careers they hadn't even heard about, but that would perfectly suit their interests.
RoadMap4Life allows users to download "roadmaps," which offer a comprehensive overview of different career options, including the recommended major and educational path for students hoping to enter a particular field.
2. Explore. Believe it or not, taking an introductory course won't teach you anything about career fields; a basic biology course, for example, won't give you a taste of the math and chemistry involved in completing a biology major or going to medical school. Join clubs, talk to professors and work internships to get a better idea about the work involved in the majors that most interest you.
3. Know yourself. Maybe you love to write but need a regular sleep schedule. Or maybe you love to work with people but want to live an affluent lifestyle. In the first case, a journalism career -; and the deadlines that come with it -; might become too stressful. In the second, a career in social work might pay too poorly. So, talk to your career counselor about careers that match your interests with the kind of lifestyle you can lead.
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