Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

'Major' Decisions

During this time of year, many new and transfer students are taking a big step in their lives, attending a four-year college or university to obtain a bachelor’s degree. With this step comes many important decisions, from choosing a roommate and first-semester classes to deciding which extracurricular activities to join and what to major in. 

Even today, surveys conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) show that a student’s major plays a role in many aspects of their future employment, including career opportunities and salary. Because of this, it is crucial for students to examine their interests, skills, and values in order to make good decisions on their journey toward major selection and the world of work.

New or transfer students might be wondering:

  • What should I major in?
  • What majors are offered at my school, and what career paths go with those majors?
  • What can I do with my current major?
  • What careers best suit me?

Research indicates that it is important for a student to follow their interests through this process to increase the likelihood of completing their degree. A 2010 study by Jeff Allen and Steve Robbins in the Journal of Counseling Psychology found a strong correlation between interest-major congruence and degree attainment after examining data from various four-year and two-year postsecondary institutions. 

To move forward, the first step is to take time to identify a student’s interests, personality, values, skills, and lifestyle preferences. The second step is to explore occupations and major areas of study compatible with their personal attributes. 

How can students move through each of the steps and answer some of these questions to improve major choice and decision-making? 

At the University of Redlands, the answer, in part, involves Focus 2, a career, major, and education planning system. New and transfer U of R students are required to complete five Focus 2 self-assessments before they begin their first semester. These areas of self-assessment are valuable no matter where a student goes to school:

  • Work Interests—a reflection of the kinds of work related activities and tasks they most enjoy doing
  • Personality Type—a description of how they react to certain situations and people, how they make decisions, and how they organize information and go about solving problems
  • Skills—a reflection of their talents and the types of things they easily learn and perform well
  • Values—a description of what is most important to them in life
  • Leisure Interests—a reflection of the kinds of leisure-related activities they most enjoy 

U of R students can also use Focus 2 to help:

  • Select a major based on their interests and aspirations
  • Discover occupations matching their personal preferences and attributes
  • Map out career plans in the present and future
  • Make informed career decisions

If you are a U of R student, begin by reading about the new student requirement, program benefits, and how to create an account here. Then, follow-up with a career counselor from Career and Professional Development, your peer advisor, and/or your faculty advisor to further discuss your future education and career planning. At Career and Professional Development, we look forward to working with this year’s newest Bulldogs!

You won’t be sorry you devoted the time and effort to finding a major that suits you.