Elizabeth West
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Picking a major can feel overwhelming. It can feel like your entire career path depends on this one decision. However, for most degrees, you don’t actually need to declare your major until the end of your sophomore year. Nearly 80% of students change their major at least once while in school. When deciding on a major, you should explore your interests, lifestyle and ultimate career goals. Breaking it down step by step can help you make the process simpler. 


Start by asking yourself self-exploration questions. This document is a great way to get started: Exploring Interests Worksheet. There are personality tests you can take and there are journal prompts on Pinterest. Journaling can help you learn about what type of work you enjoy, what values are important to you, what reservations you have about certain careers and what excites you. Self-exploration can also involve exploring new experiences by taking different classes, joining different clubs on campus, getting a job or meeting different people. UIS has a wide array of resources available to students when it comes to choosing a major.

Past Experiences

Besides self-exploration, you can reflect on what you have enjoyed in the past. What were your favorite subjects in school? Were there multiple subjects you enjoyed? For example, if you enjoy physical education and science, that could be a good combination for exercise science. Many students have experiences outside of school that they can reflect on, too. Was there a certain club, activity, or job that you fell in love with? Can you try and describe what aspect of it you liked and didn’t like? Check out the clubs here at UIS to explore your interests.

Future Goals

Next, students will want to look at what kind of lives these types of careers can give. If you enjoy science you might want to be a nurse. But do you also have a good bedside manner? If you love science but don’t want to deal with patients, maybe lab work is more suited for you. Explore UIS’s Medical Laboratory Science Program. Students also need to think about how many years of schooling they are willing to go through and the salary they expect. Students who want to be counselors will likely need to major in psychology as an undergraduate and then advance to the human development counseling master’s program. It’s a good idea to make a budget of what your expenses are to see what kind of salary you need to be making in the future. 


Selecting a major can be hard. It can feel like everyone else has it figured out and their lives planned. Some people take lots of time to find their passions. They’ll have to try many different clubs, take different jobs, and maybe change their major a few times before they know what they want to do. You need to continue to be patient and explore the options that UIS has to offer. Here is a major quiz you can take to explore some of your options.

Contact Us

Talking to someone can help you process some of your ideas better. You can talk to a one of our advisors to help you plan your courses to discover your interests. Reach out to the UIS Advising Center. Send us an email at or call at 217-206-7471. Advisors are also available for drop-in hours Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Brookens 461. Appointments are encouraged. We're happy to assist you throughout the process.

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