Chapter 4. Planning Your Academic Pathways

Where do you go from here?

Planning and decision-making are continuous processes, but if you’re reading this text you presumably have a specific educational end goal in mind—you want to graduate with a degree! After you’ve decided on a degree and major path, you’re already well-prepared to begin your academic planning. Use the resources discussed in this chapter and available at your college or university to draft your plan, and then review it with others who can provide feedback. If you’re undecided about your degree and major, you will still have some work ahead of you before you can craft a more detailed academic plan. Here are some steps you can take to help you find a major that’s right for you:

  • Consider your interests and skills. Your academic advisor and/or your college’s career services office can connect you with an academic and career path through discussion about your interests and skills. These offices and individuals often provide interest and skills tests that offer a starting point for your discussion. There are also free assessments available on the internet, such as the this one, that can help identify your interests and skills and match them with careers and related majors. (Refer to the Get Connected section earlier in this chapter for additional online resources.)
  • Consider the future. Imagine yourself in job. What types of tasks or work environments are attractive to you? Is there anything you would absolutely hate to do that you can already rule out? Also consider the future of work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook identifies some career fields as having a bright outlook with expected job growth in the future. Ideally, you’ll want to study for a career that’s growing, not declining.
  • Consider your preferred lifestyle. Although we all like to have a balanced life, perhaps it’s less important to you to follow your interests and more important to follow the bottom line. If your preferred lifestyle will require that you make a high salary, you’ll want to research those jobs that are highest paying and take note of the degrees and majors that prepare you for those fields.


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