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Help Your Student Understand Major vs. Career

Choosing a liberal arts major means choosing a SUBJECT to study in depth. Majors are best chosen on the basis of INTEREST in the subject and APTITUDE or ABILITY to do well academically in the subject.

The reason a major is so important is because it is an academic requirement for graduation, NOT because it will determine what career or occupation your son/daughter can enter.

The relationship between a liberal arts major and a career is not nearly as direct as most people think. While majors such as accounting, computer science, education or communication can be directly related to particular career fields, most majors at the College of Charleston provide general intellectual training not directly related to specific careers.

The basic knowledge and skills developed in a major can be applied to a number of different careers. Liberal arts majors do not restrict graduates to a few career choices; rather, they allow for a number of different career options.

Choosing a major, then, is not the same as choosing an occupation or career.

Career choices should be based on a genuine interest in the work and on having the abilities and skills needed for the work, not necessarily on a particular major. Career choices are also dependent upon good career information, and the best career information usually comes from personal research and work experience outside the classroom. When studying a particular subject, your student will learn more about the theories and principles of the subject than about the application of the subject to work. Knowledge about the application comes from working in a field, reading about the field, or talking with people in a field.

Majors do relate to careers in one significant way: they help with the further development of individual skills needed in a career. English majors, for example, usually develop excellent communications skills, expecially writing skills. Math majors develop good analytical and problem-solving skills; history and science majors develop research skills, etc.

Jobs and careers are not so much determined by majors, but on what your son/daughter CAN do and what he/she WANTS to do.

Liberal arts graduates get hired because of their experience, skills, and interest in a career field, not necessarily on the basis of a major.

Does your son or daughter need help in choosing a major? Encourage him/her to make an appointment with the Career Center. We'd be happy to assist your student in exploring options and choices.