What do you want from your college experience? What do you want from your major? What do you want from your career? Chances are, you will find your college experience more rewarding and you will be a more successful student if you give some serious thought to these questions. Knowing why you are in school helps you see see the relevance between what you are doing in school and how this will serve you later--either on the job or in graduate school. Seeing these connections motivates you to do well. If you can develop clear educational and career goals early in your college experience, this can have a number of important pay-offs. For example, you'll have more time to identify and program into your schedule those courses that will serve you well and those volunteer and extracurricular activities that will help you develop useful skills. Also, if you've gotten off to a bad start grade-wise, the more terms you'll have to earn high grades to offset the low ones.
These are all complex questions so you shouldn't get discouraged if you can't come up with immediate answers. It may be a case of your needing more information before you can know what you want. If so, just put the questions on the "back burner" as you review the information on this site. Hopefully, what you learn here will guide you to the answers you seek.
If you've familiarized yourself with the materials on this site and done some serious reflection on your educational and career goals and you're still feeling confused, I'd suggest making an appointment for some career counseling at the Career Services Office on your campus. You might also consider making an appointment at the Counseling Center to take some occupational interest tests. Another option is to take some time off from school and get some job experience. Then, once you know why you want to go to college, you should be much more interested in your classes and motivated to do well.
To make the most of your undergraduate years, you must know what courses and extracurricular experiences will help you develop the knowledge and skills you'll need for later success. One way to get a handle on this issue is to ask prospective employers what types of skills they want prospective employees to have. Based on this idea, Dr. Jan Kennedy and I developed two matching hand-outs. By doing a little research, we were able to identify eight different skills that employers are looking for in their employees ("Skills Employers Seek"). A companion hand-out lists courses in the core curriculum (those required for all majors), major, and minor that should help you develop these critical skills ("Suggested Courses to Develop Skills Employers Seek").
(Note: In our Careers in Psychology course, we have students complete a four-year, term-by-term course plan that details all the courses they have taken and all those they plan to take and, if known, in what sequence. This is a useful way to determine whether you'll be able to take all the courses you want, in their necessary sequences, before graduation. If your department has an advising check-sheet for your major/degree, you can work from this form. A college catalog for the year in which you entered is another helpful resource for this exercise.)
APA-style reference for this page:
Lloyd, M. A. (1997, August 28). Making the most of your undergraduate years. [Online]. Available: http://www.psywww.com/careers/most.htm.
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