Choosing a Major

Choosing a major can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. While it helps you plan for the rest of your undergraduate experience, you are also gaining experience and education for your future career.

Whether you're choosing a major, changing majors, or making the connection from your major to a career pathway, Career Services can help! We also recommend meeting with an academic advisor for a further assistance with choosing a major and course selection. We have broken down the process into four steps that we believe will help guide you towards making a decision.

Step 1: Discover Who You Are

Outline goals for your future, find out what values and interests are most important to you.

Ask yourself the following questions...

What are your dreams?

  • If you can do or be anything in the world without worrying about education or money, what would you do or be?
  • What attracts you to this?
  • What is preventing you from fulfilling that dream? 

What are your interests?

  • Take an interest inventory as part of the career exploration process.
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • What do you enjoy reading, studying, and learning about?

What are your values?

  • If you had a million dollars, how would  you spend it?
  • What values does this suggest are important to you?

What experiences do you have?

  • What do you like about the jobs, activities, and volunteer experiences you have had?
  • What do you not like?

Step 2: Explore Majors

Decision-making within the career exploration process requires personal knowledge of yourself and how you fit into the world of work.

Review the list of majors, utilize the career assessments and career counseling resources offered by Career Services, and set up an appointment with a Career Counselor. Talking with a Career Counselor can help you understand what you are finding out about yourself and decide on appropriate next steps in the process.

Also, check What Can I Do With This Major?

  • Resources

    FOCUS Online - A free online tool that can help you develop an accurate understanding of your personal strengths, needs, and preferences.

    • Each of the core assessments will produce a list of occupations for you to explore.As you look at each occupation, you will be asked questions about many of the details.
    • FOCUS will summarize both the positive aspects and the potential problems associated with each occupation.
    • It is recommended that students speak with a Career Services counselor before and after completing the career exploration inventories to ensure understanding of the results.

    Career Planning Class- Are you deciding on a college major? Need some direction in how to approach your educational and career planning? Join fellow students who are also searching by signing up for EXPS 102, Career Planning.

    • EXPS 102 is a one credit for-degree course assists in assessing your interests, temperament, skills and values.
    • You will identify careers to explore and learn how to conduct informational interviews and research careers in-depth.
    • Goal-setting will be focused on to assist you in keeping your planning in place after the class ends.
    • The course meets for ten 1.5 hour sessions which includes a one hour individualized meeting with a counselor. For further information contact Britta Roan at Career Services, 313-593-5020 or broan@umich.edu
  • Other Helpful Tips
    • Review all of the majors at University of Michigan-Dearborn
    • Veterans - Did you know Veterans can experience the selection of a major and transition of their military career to a civilian opportunity as a challenge? In addition to utilizing Focus online, John Holland's Self-Directed Search is a well-respected model which has paralleled with occupations specifically for veterans.  This along with meetings with Career Counselors and your Academic Advisor may help set your path. 
    • What Can I Do With This Major?
    • Career Guides 

Step 3: Identify, Act, and Evaluate

 After choosing a major, begin taking classes that count toward your major to determine if you made the right decision.

Identify Choices

  • Which Majors match my interest pattern?

  • Are these majors compatible with my personality style?

  • Are identified work values consistent with these majors interesting?

  • Are these majors consistent with my abilities?

  • Is the time it takes to complete the educational requirements acceptable to me?

Taking Action

  • Which major seems to be the best fit based on the previous steps?

  • Does the major need to be changed or does the projected plan of study need to be altered?

  • Are there internships or other ways to gain valuable experience in this area?

Evaluating the Decision

  • Are the classes enjoyable?

  • Are my grades improving or remaining at an acceptable level?

  • Has my motivation improved?

Step 4: Learn About Occupations

Meet with a Career Counselor, gain professional experience in your area of interest, and take advantage of our online resources to learn more about occupations. 

  • Gaining Experience
    • Co-ops/Internships - Gain experience in your field while earning class credit. Reach out to the appropriate Co-op/Internship office for more information.
    • Volunteering - Make a difference on campus and in the local community. Each semester, the Office of Student Life has a number of service and volunteer opportunities for students. You can view them on the Office of Student Life page on VictorsLink.
    • Student Organizations - Most majors have affiliated student organizations or students' chapters of professional organizations.
    • Summer Jobs/Part-time work - inquire about summer and part-time jobs using your Career Connections account.
  • Resources
    • Counseling and Psychological Services promotes emotional wellness and psychological development. They also have career interest inventories which can be administered and interpreted for a nominal fee.
    • O*Net - Department of Labor source of updated occupational information and labor market research. Interactive skills-based database to describe worker attributes.
    • America's Career INFONET - An extensive career resource library. Find wages and employment trends, occupational requirements, state-by-state labor market conditions, and missions of employer contacts.
    • NACE Salary Calculator - Calculate what your potential income would be depending on your major.

Career Services

280 -
Fairlane Center North (FCN)
Phone: 
313-593-5020
Fax: 
313-593-3705
Back to top of page