Choosing a Major
Gather Information about Yourself
If you've come to Stockton and already know what you want to major in, that's great! If you haven't chosen a major yet, you're not alone. The fact is, up to 80% of freshmen entering college all across the United States indicate that they are not certain of their choice of major, even if they have declared one. And most college students change their major two or three times before they graduate. So don't worry. Start the process by gathering information about yourself.
First, you'll have you ask yourself some difficult questions. Be very honest with yourself. After all, you're in a unique position to plan for your future. Consider these questions:
1. What are your interests?
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy participating in? Do you enjoy sports, reading, writing, volunteer activities, music or dance? Do you paint or draw? Know a foreign language? Did you enjoy science and math in high school? What other courses did you enjoy in high school? Did you participate in theater or join clubs? How did you spend your time outside of class? What things do you dream about doing? In order for you to be successful in a major and a career, you'll have to enjoy the subject area. You'll be immersed in that subject area for four years of college and beyond.
2. What are your abilities?
Do you seem to have a natural talent for a certain subject area? Does solving problems come easily to you? Do you like to fix things or work with your hands? Are you a person who leads well, or are you a follower? Have you won awards or scholarships for music, art, sports or scholastic endeavors? How did you do on your college entrance exams? How does your performance compare with other students?
3. What are your values?
A choice of major or career should be in congruence with your core values or it can cause you unhappiness in the future. Is accumulating wealth in your lifetime most important to you, or is it more important that your life's work be of service to others? Do you value your independence in work situations? What kind of work environment with bring you most satisfaction? Does learning for learning's sake bring you satisfaction, or do you believe that learning should just be about what you need for a future job?
4. What are your motivations?
What moves you? Why are you at Stockton? Is there an outside influence such as parental pressure, or the desire to make a good deal of money? Are you thinking about a major that is easy to get through in four years, or are you truly looking at your own interests, abilities, and values in making a decision? Remember, you can only be successful in a job/career if you have a sincere interest in the work, and if your abilities and values match up with what is expected of the job.
As you're doing your self-exploration, take the following steps:
- Talk to your friends, parents, and teachers about your interests and abilities: they may know you better than you think.
- Write down what you find out and carefully analyze your own interests and abilities, values and motivations.
- Make an appointment with Career Education & Development.
- Devote time each week to thinking and discussing major options with your preceptor, or come to Academic Advising (Campus Center 242) for help.
Explore Stockton's Majors and Minors
Stockton offers a wide variety of majors and minors from the following areas:
- Arts and Humanities
- General Studies
- Natural Sciences and Mathematics
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
- Professional Studies
The college catalog is a great source of information about the degree programs at Stockton. Each undergraduate program requires a minimum of 128 credit hours to complete. The selection of your major will depend on your own interests, skills, and motivations. Choosing a minor could offer the opportunity to pursue a further area of interest. The minor chosen may or may not add credits to the 128 to graduate.
You will want to know the requirements for each degree program. For example, you might find it interesting to know that the B.A. in Political Science has only two required courses! On the other hand, there are no free electives or "cognates" for the B.A. in Studio Arts. Every program is different.
To check out how your credits may apply to any major in the college, you can do a "what-if" analysis of your credits on Degree Works. Just sign in to your go.stockton portal and access Degree Works in the Student Services tab. You can choose any major, any concentration and even add a minor choice.
Make a short list of majors you would consider pursuing. Do they fit your interests, abilities, values and motivations? Next see how those majors could possibly translate into career options.
Understand How Majors and Careers May Match Up
It is important to know that a choice of major does not necessarily indicate a certain career path. You may have many job choices once you leave Stockton. Investigate the web sites below to see just how many career options you can have with a degree you are interested in completing.
- Stockton's Career Services site: "What Can I Do with a Major in...?" This is a great site for connecting to various majors and careers, plus strategies for reaching career goals in a particular field.
- The University of North Carolina at Wilmington site: "What Can I Do with a Major in...?" This site lists the skills you are developing while you complete a major, plus various career choices associated with the major.
If you wish to know about a particular field (job requirements, salary expectations, trends in hiring) you may want to access the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This very useful resource maintained by the federal Department of Labor. O*Net OnLine is also an excellent source of information.
An important part of the decision-making process is to talk with people who have first-hand knowledge of the major. You can do that by interviewing students, faculty, and professionals in the field to get their opinions about the academic content of the major and career options associated with the major.
It is easy to find faculty and students on campus to set up an interview. It may be a little more difficult to find professionals to contact. The Career Education & Development office at Stockton maintains a database of Stockton Alumni Mentors who are willing to meet with students and talk about their career paths.
Decide who you are going to interview and make an appointment. If it is not possible to meet in person, the interview might be conducted via phone or e-mail. Arrive on time for the interview, prepared to take notes. Don't let the interview drag on too long, and remember to follow-up the interview with a written thank-you note.
You've obtained a great deal of information. Now it's time to sift through it and begin to make some decisions. Make a list of the majors and explore their academic content and compare this to the career information you've researched. Which majors seem best suited for you? Make a short list You'll want to come up with the top 1-3 choices.
Once you have the choices narrowed down, begin to enroll in the introductory courses in those majors. Test what you thought about the major with the academic reality of the coursework. Are you academically suited for this major? What are the academic challenges of the major, and can you meet those challenges? Does the content of the course stimulate and motivate you?
As soon as you have decided on your major (and maybe a minor):
- Get a "Declaration of Major" form from the Center for Academic Advising (Campus Center 242). Or click here to download and print the form in PDF format. (Acrobat Reader is required to view the form)
- Get the form signed by a faculty member in the major you are declaring.
- Bring the signed form to the Center for Academic Advising.
Then enjoy pursuing your academic career here at Stockton!
Make it a goal to have decided upon a major by the end of your sophomore year!