Major Exploration Workshop

This workshop is designed to assist students with self exploration, career paths, and finding the major that gets you on your way.

Creating Your Wandering Map

Matching Game

So, you’re trying to choose a major. It’s a big decision, the majority of people second, third, fourth, fifth-guess this decision. But, we are going to give you an introduction to a (new) way of thinking about majors, a new perspective for your consideration. But, first, let’s talk about the currently dominating perspective on choosing a major.


Download, print and complete the Matching Game below. Guess the major and career each student ended up with. 

Once you've made your guesses, download Matching Career Key below. and check out how well you did! 

Are you surprised?

Generations ago, American economy shifted from agricultural to industrial. This meant that people were displaced from long-held careers, so they needed help finding jobs—the birth of aptitude tests and the like. Career tests were designed to match people’s interests and skills with potential vocations (2). Most people pursued trades which could be trained, college was reserved for teaching, medicine, law, or the ministry. The path between training and career was linear; “If I want job A, I can participate in training A.”

More people are attending college, and still the old linear path mentality hangs around. The idea that not only can you get a job, your job can be directly related to your major can be reassuring. That’s probably why the linear model persists. And, while not all branching theories of the linear model are bad or archaic, sometimes they can keep you from thinking broadly about your options.


Matching Career and Major Game

Matching Career and Major Game and Key

Chaos Theory

As we can see reality doesn’t always match up with that traditional linear career path. Which makes sense when you think about it, unplanned events or conditions often change a person’s circumstances and therefore their trajectory. This can be examined with the Chaos Theory.

One popular aspect of chaos theory is the butterfly effect: the notion that a small action now can have a dramatic effect in the future.  Kate Brooks, the author of 'You Majored in What?' incorporates this concept into her coaching system by encouraging students who don't have a career goal to set career intentions instead.“The greater the difference between now and the future, theweaker our prediction will be.”You Majored in What? by Kate Brooks, pg 11Planned Happenstance TheoryCreation and transformation of unplanned events into opportunities for learning. Specifically, togenerate, recognize, and incorporate chance events into career development.Mitchell, K. E., Levin, A. S., & Krumboltz, J. D. (Sept 1999)-------------------------------------Here's a real-life example from You Majored in What? and a similar response to what you may hear from any college graduate when asked how they actually arrived at their current job:I don't know exactly. I majored in psychology and thought I'd pursue a Ph.D. and maybe become a professor. But I also liked my anthropology classes, and a professor told me about a summer internship in a museum. I helped create an exhibit on Native American art and I really enjoyed the work. Then an alumna spoke at a career program on her work at the Smithsonian Institution. It sounded interesting so I went up and introduced myself to her. We kept in touch and she called me during my senior year to see if I would be interested in a fund-raising position of the Smithsonian's new Native American exhibit. So here I am using my psychology skills to ask important business and community leaders to fund our research and exhibits. And I love it. And now that I know how museums work and how to raise money, my goal is to open an art gallery/museum on a Native American reservation.

Wandering Map

Moving Forward!

Major Exploration

So, you’ve created your map, identified some categories, and found some themes. This is just the first step in your life and major exploration journey. After the workshop, you will want to identify 1-2 themes from your map that you want to look at more in depth and complete one or more of the following activities.


Degree Finder 


Instructions:Using Degree Finder, search for majors that relate themes from your map. You can use the keyword search feature or look through the A-Z list. Once you have identified some potential majors, click on the major to learn more and answer some of the following questions:


Does the major have emphases? If so, what are they?

What are 2-3 career options associated with this major?

What is the major advisor’s contact information?

What are the admission requirements for the major?

What is a good introductory course to explore the major? Does it have any prerequisites?

Career Exploration

Instructions: Use one or both of the following career resource websites to explore some potential careers that relate to themes from your map.            

            Occupational Outlook Handbook: website can be used to obtain career information such as educational requirements, salary and industry demand.

            O*Net Online:

Watch the quick tutorial below on how to explore careers on O*Net and ask yourself the following questions as you explore potential careers.

What are the qualifications to enter this career? How do you get the qualifications?

What is the work environment like for this career?

What is the job outlook/growth potential for this career?

What is the average pay for this career?

Building A Plan

At this point you will want to talk with the advisor over the program that you would like to be in.

You can find their information and schedule an appointment with them at 

There are two forms to choose from when you are meeting with the major advisor:

This is the last step in the major exploration process! When you have met with your advisor and completed either one of the forms, be sure to bring the form with you to your advising appointment.