Choosing the Right Major

For the university student, this is an essential yet daunting question. Your degree, in many ways, affects the direction of your career; it is important for the aspiring college student to distinguish a career from a job. According to, “A career is the pursuit of a lifelong ambition or the general course of progression towards lifelong goals. On the other hand, a job is an activity through which an individual can earn money; it is a regular activity done in exchange for payment.” That said, the primary distinction between the two lies within the different mentalities behind them. The motivation for pursuing a job is generally for monetary reasons; whereas, a career is pursued for more personal reasons. Your job can, but may not necessarily, coincide with your career. For example, you could work as a doctor or a lawyer in order to support yourself as you pursue a career as a poet or a musician.

The process of choosing a major, and by extension a career, is heavily dependent upon your personal preferences and priorities. However, these can be challenging for students to identify; self-discovery is often a long and difficult process for many people. This is why Truman State University offers a specific resource to assist students who are in the process of choosing a major or a future career. This resource is aptly named the Career Center. At the Career Center, Truman offers two self-assessments to help students identify their values, interests, abilities and personality preferences: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII).

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator “Who Am I?”

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an assessment of  your personality. It measures your preferences about how you perceive the world and make decisions. Based on the results of the assessment, you will be given a personality type, which is a combination of four traits chosen from the following characteristics: extraversion (E) or introversion (I); sensing (S) or intuition (N); thinking (T) or feeling (F); and judgment (J) or perception (P). For example, my personality type is ISFJ or Introversion-Sensing-Feeling-Judgment. I personally believe that this assessment is accurate. I appreciate the insights that I have gained and the career choices it has suggested for me.

The MBTI is well-researched and  proven to be valid, so it is well worth the small fee you have to pay to take the examination. However, you could also explore the world of free online assessments to help you on your journey to self-discovery and ultimately to choose the work that suits you best. offers one such assessment, and it provides an in-depth description of each of the sixteen personality types.

The Strong Interest Inventory (SII) is an assessment of your interests. This assessment will show you how interested you may be in six broad categories of careers: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (RIASEC). Based on your results, you will be shown areas in which you may excel, as well as a list of ten careers in which you were assessed as having a strong interest. I have taken a similar assessment in the past, and I found it enlightening simply to be informed of the different careers paths available to me that are also consistent with my interests and values. Like the MBTI, the official SII also requires a fee to complete, but there are free alternatives online. is one site that offers a free interest survey and several other assessments to help you determine your work values, general skills and learning style, among other things.

Taking these assessments, and others like them, is a good way to begin learning more about yourself: your interests, your values, and your priorities. This kind of self-awareness is essential when making important life decisions, such as what you will major in during college or why you might be better served to change your major. However, the beauty of the American education system is that you don’t have to know what you want to major in right away. Believe it or not, the most common major at Truman is Undeclared! Moreover, even once you have made a decision, you are not bound to that decision for the rest of your collegiate career. You are free to change your major as you discover more about yourself along the way. It is also entirely possible to add a second major or a minor to expand the scope of your college experience. The most important thing is that you integrate your interests into your education, and by extension, your career. In the United States, we greatly value the process of ‘getting to know yourself.’ For that reason, there are many tools in the Career Center at Truman to help you through the processes of self-discovery and choosing a career that is right for you!


At Truman State University, you are encouraged to explore options regarding your major. Also, because it is so simple to change it, you don’t have to worry about the pressure that comes with “making the wrong choice.” Additionally, academic advisors are assigned to all students to help make the business of choosing a major easier for you! We understand that choosing a major is an important decision, so we are committed to making the whole process go as smoothly as possible. Feel free to visit the Truman Career Center website ( for more information to help you in your search.


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Hello! I am a senior English major at Truman. I enjoy reading books, writing poetry, and running everywhere! One day, I hope to be a professor of English, specifically of creative writing. It would be really cool if some of my creative work was published someday!

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