Choosing a Major
(Continued from 1)
When Allison Lowrey of McKinney, Texas, attended a
small, Southern, liberal arts college, she chose to
customize her undergraduate major because she knew
her chosen field, Child Life Studies, required a masters
degree. She was able to combine psychology and child
development courses into a major in
Independent Studies. Later, she received a M.S. in Human
Development and Family Life.
Now, however, she says it is difficult to work less
than full-time in her chosen field. I wish I had
chosen a more marketable major. I would really have
liked to do something requiring a tangible skill, like
physical or occupational therapy, which still would
have provided the opportunity to work with children,
says Lowrey. She feels that if she had chosen one of
those majors, she would have more flexibility to work
part-time while rearing her children, and still bring
home a respectable amount of money.
Nedra Rowe of Lawrenceville, Georgia, originally chose
music as her college major. I chose my major because
I enjoyed playing the piano and thought it just made
sense. Also, everyone just assumed (my parents included)
that I would major in music, remembers Rowe. After
learning how difficult the major can be, I changed my
mind during my first college piano lesson. The theory
was killer and I didn't have much of a singing voice
so my options were very limited.
Rowe then tried to remember what the assessment tests
she had taken in high school had shown about which careers
she should pursue based on her
interests and abilities.
Also, that's when I did what I wish had done
more homework about my potential major,
Rowe said. I interviewed several people and researched
what careers would be available to me after graduation.
So I decided on Human Services, because it is a degree
that can benefit you no matter what 'job 'you have during
Susan Sheridan, currently a Manager of Behavioral Health
Services for a health insurance company, said the insight
and input from others helped direct her
into a major. She recalls while in high school an adult
friend at church told her she had the gift of listening.
That fit with my growing interest in psychology
and helped shape my interest in going into mental health
counseling. After I started working, I also found that
skills with things like organization, project management,
and my tendency to sort of take charge of
things could be used in the administrative side of behavioral
There will always be those with regrets about their
chosen field and those who were fortunate enough to
find their dream career.
Rowe feels she made the right decision. I made
an 8 to 5 career out of the major for almost fourteen
years, and it has provided me contract and freelance
work for another seven or so. Its all about what
is right for you. I know its not about the money
for meI would be miserable in the corporate world,
Lowrey agrees. I think looking toward your future
and what you want to accomplish is the best indicator
of what you should choose.
Follow your heart and your talents and enjoy
your job, contends Cate.
Marsha Neilson, of Charlotte, North Carolina, says
there were few choices for women (primarily teaching,
nursing or the secretarial field) when she attended
college years ago. She chose the education field, but
explains, Over time, the role of a teacher has
evolved into something very different than what I originally
had viewed it to be. I realized this was something I
did not really want to do for the rest of my life. Also,
(initially) I did not take into account the fact that
the pay is low for what is required.
Instead of teaching, Neilson has worked in the financial
and insurance fields for the majority of her career.
I really feel that it is important to have a passion
for what one does and if you lack that passion, it can
certainly affect your level of success. She recommends
tapping into ones own resources to identify what
particular talents and skills exist.
Do you recall that I mentioned a journalism class in
my own journey for a major? It was one of the most positive
experiences I had in college. My involvement with my
high school newspaper led me to take that class. As
my interest continued, I also joined the college newspaper
staff. For many years, my interest in writing took a
back seat until I realized about a year ago that I enjoyed
writing and editing a self-study assessment for the
school where I worked. From there I enrolled in a workshop
on magazine writing, applied for a columnist position
in the local paper, and now Im into my third (or
more!) career as a part-time freelance writer.
Just as you are multi-faceted as a person, so is your
choice of a career. Use as many resources as it requires
as you weigh the many essential factors. After all,
it may be fairly simple to change jobs, but not necessarily
so easy to shift fields.
Cathy Rogers has a B.S. in Business Management and
a teaching certificate in Business Education. After
teaching computer and office skills classes for over
ten years, she now coordinates non-credit courses for
the University of Tennesssee. She also writes a community
news column for a local newspaper and feature articles
and essays for other publications.
and Career Planning.