Tips for making that 'major' decision at San Jac

 

Still on the fence about your major? Relax. You might think everyone else nailed a career goal in kindergarten, but many students enter college undecided.

If committing has you sweating, consider San Jacinto College an advantage: you can explore before choosing. Educational planners Micol Cavazos and Crystal Moreno share how to narrow your choices and explore your potential at San Jac.

Q: What is a major anyway?

Moreno: A major indicates an academic or technical field you specialize in. You develop valuable knowledge and work skills by completing a particular group of classes, known as a degree or academic plan.

Q: When do I have to decide my major?

Chart Your Course

To meet with an educational planner, call the San Jacinto College Educational Planning, Counseling, and Completion Office at 281-998-6150 or email educational.planning@sjcd.edu. You may also visit an EPCC office*:

  • Central Campus: Welcome Center, Room C27.1500
  • North Campus: Welcome Center, Room N6.170
  • South Campus: Welcome Center, Room S6.120

*Note: Because of altered operations, offices may be temporarily closed. Visit appointments.sjcd.edu to schedule a virtual appointment.

Cavazos: Deciding as soon as possible will ensure you’re taking the appropriate courses, but don’t feel pressure to decide too quickly. Make an informed decision. We have core classes you can take while you’re deciding--these transfer to any public institution in Texas. Core curriculum courses pertaining to various career pathways help you explore subjects. For example, if you are interested in psychology, you can take general psychology, which is part of the core.

Moreno: At San Jac, students choose a major when submitting their admission application. During orientation, you complete a career assessment that reinforces your choice or helps you find a better fit. You will also have at least two meetings with an educational planner, which provide opportunities to discuss your major and make changes to your educational plan. We offer other resources if you’re still unsure.

Q: How do I decide?

Cavazos: Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I like? What were your favorite subjects in high school? Or you could try process of elimination: what did you not like? For example, if you don’t like math or science, you can cross out majors that require many of these courses.
  2. What are my abilities? Consider your natural skills or talents. Then choose a job that requires those skills. But I also believe people can grow into the skills if they have the interest.
  3. How easy will it be to find employment? Research what the job market looks like. Educational planners can help you. What is the pace at which this field is increasing? Will there be jobs for you to apply for after graduation?
  4. Will I need an advanced degree? Research how much education a career will require. Think about how much time and money you’re willing to invest.

Moreno: Start with these questions:

  1. What is your academic end goal? Your associate degree should go hand in hand with the major you will pursue at your transfer university so you avoid taking unnecessary classes and wasting time, money, and effort.
  2. What do you value most? Perhaps you enjoy a consistent work schedule so you can plan a vacation in advance. Maybe you provide for a family and need a career that provides health insurance coverage. Certain careers lend themselves to some values, so take stock of what matters most to you.
  3. Do you have a deadline or timeline to achieve your academic/career goal? Many majors require high GPAs, prerequisites, or a separate application process to get started. Nursing requires all these, so students can’t simply declare a nursing major and start the program their first semester. Engineering requires a high GPA and advanced math and science courses, so you might spend several semesters taking foundational math and science before getting into actual engineering courses. If you have a graduation timeline in mind, research and plan accordingly.

Q: Should I have a back-up plan?

Moreno: It definitely helps. If your initial major doesn’t work out, don’t despair. Visit with an educational planner or career services specialist to talk through your options. You may research more on your field to determine whether other majors can lead to the same goal or take a career assessment to see if your knowledge and skills can be used in another field.

Q: Help! I’ve chosen a major and taken a few classes, but it’s not the right fit.

Cavazos: Speak with an educational planner for guidance. We go into depth. What’s making you second guess? What do you not like about this class? We’ll help you see whether you need to do more research. Talk to friends and family who know you well and discuss concerns you have. Struggling in a subject doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Maybe you need time management strategies or tutoring.

Q: What if I just can’t decide?

Cavazos: Interview professionals who work in the field(s) you’re interested in. Also, use our in-depth career advising and web-based tools like career assessments. We will review and discuss your results with you.

Moreno: Work on your core curriculum and take an experiential learning or service-learning course or two. These courses get you out into the community to conduct research and contribute to special projects. It’s one thing to learn from a textbook and lecture and another to put that knowledge to use in the field.

Q: How can an educational planner help me?

Cavazos: We’re here to help through career and transfer advising. We can help you choose classes, figure out how long your program will take, and help you navigate program or transfer admission requirements. We can also connect you to resources like Texas Reality Check, which helps you explore careers that match the lifestyle you want.

Moreno: We help you examine what interests or disinterests you about your potential major, what skills you possess, and whether those skills align with a major or career. Sometimes we even recommend other majors or career paths that might better suit you.

Q: What advice can you share from your own college experience?

Cavazos: Search for volunteer and internship opportunities--they are real eye openers. Treat your internship as a job because they’re getting to know how you work. You get to network, explore, and find out whether you see yourself doing this for a living. Also stay in touch with your advisors and educational planners. We can connect you to resources you may not know about otherwise.

Moreno: Realizing you need to change your major can be disorienting, but I am thankful I asked for help. My advisor recommended a career/skill assessment and helped me explore different majors that might be better for me than engineering. Researching and talking with trusted individuals, I realized I had a passion for the humanities and public service. After taking some core classes and service-learning options, job shadowing, and interviewing professionals, I chose my new major. I’m so thankful someone guided me through the process. That’s why I’m so adamant students see an educational planner if they’re unsure of their major--because I’ve been there too.