Although choosing a major feels daunting, it is a decision that you should invest time in making. Whether you need to officially declare a major or want to change your current one, there is one rule that remains the same; first know yourself, then pick your major.thoughtful_student

1. Know your strengths. To loosely quote the singer/philosopher Justin Bieber, ‘The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s green where you water it.’

I think of our ‘grass’ as the strengths that we already have: the unique ways we approach problems, the manner in which we interact with people, and our creativity. The problem is that we live in a world of comparison and instead of ‘watering’ (i.e. nurturing) our strengths, we are looking at our friends and asking ourselves why we don’t have theirs. STOP THIS! When you know your strengths, develop them, and find opportunities to use them that interest you, you will thrive!

Natural Ability + Work + Passion = Magic

How to know…

Take an assessment: There are multiple tools that you can use to assess your strengths. My favorite is the Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 because of its in-depth approach. It’s an online assessment that produces instant results! (Tip: Some employers use this tool to understand their employees and you might be ahead if you can discuss your strengths in the interview!!)

Ask around: Sit down with 5-10 of your closest teachers, mentors, or employers and have them list what they observe to be your strengths. These individuals have seen you in action and can speak to strengths you might not even see!

  1. Know your values. The things we value become the core of our identity. When our actions and experiences match what we value, we feel fulfilled. It is ideal to match your career with your values. For example, a Psychologist may value helping people through research while a Social Worker may value helping people through direct services.

How to know… Answer the following questions:

  • What was an experience when you felt most proud? What were you proud of?
  • What was an experience when you felt the happiest? What made you happy?
  • What was an experience when you felt useful? What did you contribute?              
  1. Know your options. After you have identified your strengths and values, it is time to research what majors and careers align with these OR even better, what strengths can you combine to create a unique niche in a field!

How to know…

  • Meet with your advisor about your strengths and values and the majors available.
  • Use an elective to take a course in an area of interest to get your toes wet!
  • Research people in a field of interest and look at what they studied. You might be surprised! There is often more than one path to a career.

Need more inspiration? Here’s a TEDTalk Playlist to make you think!