Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Choosing a College Major Using Holland's Theory

How do you choose a college major? What is Holland's Theory of Career Choice and how can it help me?

With hundreds of options to choose from, depending on the college, it can be overwhelming to make such an important decision. Fortunately, there is a simple, well-established method to making a good decision that research shows really works.
  1. Do a thorough search - Look at ALL your choices.
  2. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each alternative.
  3. Search hard for new information.
  4. Plan ahead.
Try these activities as part of your 4 step decision-making journey.

Holland's Theory of Career Choice can help you narrow down your choices to those majors that interest you. As part of self-assessment suggested below, knowing your top three of the six personality types (RIASEC) can help you do that in a scientific, effective way. To see some examples of majors grouped by Holland type, click on this page.

Here's your checklist for success:
  • Combine self-assessment with exploring possible majors. See our article Learning More About Yourself for suggested activities.
  • Expand and explore your options. See our article Learn More about the Jobs That Interest Me. And talk with people knowledgeable about your field of interest (teachers, people who work in that field, counselor)
  • Choose a major that interests and motivates you. You'll get better grades and more out of the major. Just make sure that you meet any course requirements for a future job or graduate school you are interested in. (i.e. nursing, medical school)
If you follow this process of good decision-making, then you're likely not to make a mistake. And mistakes are costly, additional tuition and debt for more school or training you decide you need later. Good luck!

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