For most traditional, undergraduate students — the ones who have enrolled in a college by the time they graduate from high school and head off to pursue a degree the very next year — it’s not a huge deal if they begin their first semester without having declared a major. Many institutions offer resources for students who are undecided, and those students can often buy some time by focusing on general education courses during the first year or two.
But this isn’t always true for adult learners. Whether you’ve already put in some work to complete your general education courses (however many years removed), or you’re simply ready for a no-nonsense approach to college that is both flexible and affordable, it might feel like the pressure is on to solidify a career path before you take the leap to enroll.
Going back to school can be a huge life change for adult learners; you’re not alone if you want to be sure about every aspect of your decision before moving forward.
With that in mind, we compiled some tips to help you narrow down the right degree path for your personal aspirations. However, if you’re still undecided, don’t worry! Institutions like Hodges University have options for students just like you. Take a look.
7 tips to help you pick a major
1. Think about your past experiences
No matter what you’ve been doing between the last time you attended school and now, you’ve surely gained some valuable real-world experience. It can be helpful to identify the things you’ve liked or disliked about any jobs or supervisory roles you’ve held in the past. Then consider how the more positive elements could be incorporated into a possible career.
2. Determine your strengths and primary interests
If you want to truly love your career, it’s best to first consider what piques your interest and identify the areas in which you excel. If you can find a degree program that leads to career opportunities that align with your interests and skills, you will be better positioned to enjoy your 9-to-5 down the road.
3. Consider your core values and beliefs
Sometimes identifying your strengths and interests doesn’t clearly lead to a specific major or career. If you find yourself in this position, it can be helpful to instead consider the beliefs and core values you’re most passionate about. For example, if you’re passionate about helping people, you might research careers that emphasize personal interaction and support, such as social work or nursing.
4. Identify whom you most admire or envy
While we all know envy and jealousy are not qualities to strive for, they can spur helpful insights. Determining whom you feel this way toward can be a helpful means of identifying what you want for yourself. For example, if someone you greatly admire has a career as a successful business manager, you might consider a similar career path. Rather than repressing the emotion, try utilizing it as a tool to learn more about yourself and your personal goals.
5. Evaluate what your own goals look like
The people you admire and your family’s needs can help guide your decision-making process, but it’s important to keep a tight grip on your own goals for yourself. Rather than aiming for the career choice that seems most practical, staying true to your passions for your own life can help ensure you’ll be happy in the career path you do end up choosing.
6. Examine your work style
For a more practical approach, it can be beneficial to think about the work style and environment in which you most thrive. For example, if you’re prone to distractions or procrastination, you may fare better in work environments where supervisors are present, keep things running smoothly and ensure deadlines are met. In contrast, if you’re more of a self-starter who is easily able to stay on task and accomplish goals independently, you might look for a career option that’s a little less structured.
7. Look into the logistics
Finally, while examining your goals, strengths and interests can help you narrow down the careers you’d enjoy and be good at, it’s still important to think about the practical elements of earning a specific degree. Setting long-term financial goals, digging into specific degree requirements and calculating what type of program you can actually afford to enroll in should all be factors you consider before narrowing down your field of study.
Maybe you don’t have to choose
If you’ve tried all of the tips listed above and you’re still coming up empty as to what career you should pursue, you might feel like you’ve hit a dead end. Even if you don’t feel ready to specifically pinpoint the career you’re aiming for, you can still move forward with the process of earning your degree. Majors like interdisciplinary studies are designed with students like you in mind.
What is interdisciplinary studies?
Interdisciplinary studies programs cross traditional boundaries to focus on several disciplines at once. An interdisciplinary degree path centers on core concepts that are pertinent in today’s professional world. These include critical thinking, effective communication, social responsibility, ethics, global diversity and cultural competence, research skills, strategic planning and leadership styles.
An interdisciplinary studies program educates students in concepts that are critical to understanding complex contemporary issues with an acute level of versatility. The education received can then be applied to a number of potential career paths. If you’re unsure of your specific career goals, this could be a great opportunity for you as you venture into your journey toward a degree.
What can I do with a degree in interdisciplinary studies?
An interdisciplinary studies degree can lead students to a wide variety of occupations, such as managerial careers, government positions, social work professions and careers in technology. Because this degree path is not industry specific, you’ll have a chance to drive your education toward your own array of professional opportunities.
This degree path prepares students to become articulate professionals with top-notch communication and critical-thinking skills — traits that are valued in every industry. Do note, however, that some career paths may require additional licensure or industry-specific certification after you earn an interdisciplinary studies degree. Those who consider going into teaching, for example, would still need to adhere to state-specific certification procedures.
It’s time to take charge of your education
Making the choice to go back to school is not an easy decision. While you may feel slightly rusty or apprehensive about returning to college, remember that the best way to set yourself up for success is to feel confident about what you’re studying and the opportunities that will be unlocked once you earn your degree.
If you’d like to browse potential majors while considering the seven tips listed above, visit Hodges University’s academic information page. If you’re intrigued by what you’ve read about an interdisciplinary studies degree path, visit the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies program page to learn more about your options.