Not sure what you want to study at Illinois or can’t decide between a few options? I HEAR YA! In college I changed my major (gulp) five times. As a bright-eyed college freshman, I wanted to teach middle-school math. And, well, long story short … here I am with what I consider to be the best job on campus helping prospective students start their journey at Illinois.
In addition to stressing my dad out, the common thread in all of my majors was helping people—specifically students—navigate education and find success. I really just didn’t know I could do this as a career.
So let’s talk about where you are with deciding a major. Here are some of the first questions I ask students when they are deciding on a major for their Illinois application:
- What is your favorite class?
- What was the most exciting project, experiment, book, or activity in which you’ve participated?
- What’s one of your passions outside of schoolwork?
In addition to those conversations, there are a lot of great tools available for you to explore possible career and major options. One of my favorites is John L. Holland’s Theory of Vocational Choice (dating back to as early as 1958). Essentially, Holland’s theory explores who you are and how that matches with majors and careers. Aren’t we all just trying to find this place?
Some other things to think about: Do you like working with people or ideas? Statistics or technology? Are you creative or investigative? Do you prefer organizing or persuading? Critically thinking about some of these concepts will help narrow down your options. (S/O to Holland, 1958).
College is an amazing time to explore different areas of interest and learn how those passions could turn into long, successful careers. Here are a few things you can do BEFORE you take your first class at Illinois:
- Explore our list of majors by interest area. You may find applying directly to the Division of General Studies is the perfect place for you to start.
- During a visit to campus, request a meeting with a college or department of interest. If you’re not ready for that, stop by the Admissions and Records Building to speak with a counselor. We are here Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. CST. You can also call us, 217-333-0302.
- Talk to someone in your local community who you admire about their career.
- Check our resources at your local library (I LOVE LIBRARIES!). I think you may find some really helpful resources exploring different academic areas and majors.
And then once you’re on campus, we know that the journey isn’t over! We have tons of resources to help you specify your career goals and explore new areas. Here’s a few:
- Division of General Studies
- Career Center
- Illinois Leadership Center
- Also, your academic advisor in your college will have TONS of resources specific to your college and major.
So that’s a lot. But trust me, no two experiences at Illinois look the same. We have so many opportunities, resources, majors, and classes for you to utilize to help you plan your perfect undergraduate journey.