Is Your College Major the Right One For You?

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By Annemarie Durkin

According to Dante Cantu, the Executive Director for Academic Advising and the Center for Student Success at SUNY New Paltz, roughly one-third of the incoming freshmen at SUNY New Paltz enroll as ‘undecided’ majors. Choosing the right college major can be a difficult and trying process to navigate.

Whether you are an incoming college freshman with no direction or a rising college junior with the daunting task of declaring a major, below are some key questions to ask yourself when making this potentially life-changing decision, as well as some resources and advice to turn to that can assist in the decision-making process. 

First take a visit to the Career Resource Center located in Humanities room 105

Mark McFadden, the Director of The Career Resource Center says, “deciding what to major in comes down to two things: an increased level of self-awareness in the student to understand what they’re interested in or are capable of doing, combined with what opportunities exist for them.”

The Career Resource Center has two to three advisors on staff at a time to help students decide what to major in or what to do with a major. In addition to actual advisors to talk to, they also offer a number of interest assessments that look at your interests and compare them to a large control group. This group has been working for three years or more and have expressed a high level of satisfaction in the jobs they are placed in based off of those interests. These assessments provide students with examples of careers that would fit well with their personal interests.

After speaking to career specialists and advisors in the Career Resource Center, take some time to think about your interests and talents

While the Career Resource Center can be helpful in assisting to identify the things you are interested in or excel at, it is important to spend some time thinking about the information you learned about yourself and try to determine what can come from that info. Ask yourself: “what careers coincide best with my interests and talents?” And also, “is this an achievable or tangible goal to have with the resources I have?”

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Next talk to the Office of Academic Advising located in Wooster Hall 106

Academic Advising is a great resource to utilize when deciding on a major. According to the SUNY New Paltz website, the Office of Academic Advising is directly responsible for advising undergraduates who are in the process of selecting majors.

Dante Cantu, director of the Center for Student Success, explains that, “advising is far more than selecting courses. It demands a broader discussion that includes a student’s strengths, interests, aptitude and so much more. My staff is currently learning that advising involves a curriculum (the liberal arts and science core at NP), pedagogy (how they engage in advising, i.e., open-ended questioning, meaning/sense-making) and learning outcomes (as a result of your meetings with an advisor, students learn x, y and z). Through this process, a student can develop a sound educational plan with their ultimate career goals in mind.”

With these local resources, hopefully the process of choosing a college major will not seem as daunting and will ultimately be a far easier experience. As long as you follow these steps, the decision is sure to be less challenging.

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