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Assessment tool helps students pick a major

December 14, 2007

Some students go to college knowing exactly what they want to do in life. Others aren’t so sure.

Picking a major can be a stress-inducing matter where assistance seems hard to find. Even after choosing a major, students may discover that the field they thought sounded great isn’t the right one for them.

Discovering how students’ specific interests can relate to a major and career track can be as simple as utilizing the Kuder online assessment inventory that is free to anyone with an Arizona State University ID.

Students who are searching for the right major can take advantage of tools such as the Kuder provided by ASU’s University College that serves the university’s exploratory majors. The Kuder Career Planning System provides information about possible career choices and possibilities to explore after students answer questions about interests, skills and priorities.

After assessing interests and how those apply to specific careers, students can take the next steps to career success through University College workshops that show how they can customize Kuder information to specific majors at ASU. They can then talk to an advisor for the major, check out ASU’s new eAdvisor tool to find out what the major’s course requirements are, and discuss the chosen field with a senior in the program. ASU’s Career Services can provide networking opportunities as well as direction when it comes to composing essentials such as resumes and learning job skills.

The importance of choosing a career that matches interests is illustrated in a study in which 1,500 business school graduates were asked if they followed money or their passion when choosing employment. Eighty-three percent said money and 17 percent mentioned passion. Twenty years later, of the 101 people who were millionaires, 99% were from the group who said they followed their interests, not the money (Albion, M. (2000). Making a life, making a living. New York: Warner Books). “We focus a lot on your passions,” says Mary Dawes, University College academic and career exploration director. “Look inside first and then look at what’s out there.”

Other career discovery tools include talking to different people working in a chosen field by connecting with services such as the ASU Alumni Association’s Career Connections that puts students in contact with alumni working in their major.

“Alumni are very receptive to helping students,” Dawes says.

And University College is receptive to helping students, regardless if they’ve chosen a major or not. Students who may not have been accepted into competitive majors such as nursing can also find assistance through services such as academic advisement that can help clarify other options such as the many careers available in health care.

“We will work with any student,” Dawes says.

Students can also earn credit for clarifying or discovering a major by taking UNI 194. The course helps students decide on a major that best fits their interests or find out if the major they’ve chosen is the right one. Dawes hears how beneficial the course is from students after they’ve completed the work. “It was so worthwhile” and “You should make everybody do it,” are two of the most common comments she hears from students.

Respondents in a fall 2007 survey of 249 student participants who took UNI 194 include: “It provided very useful information for us, the students. When we felt confused, there was always help provided to help us decide what career to choose.” “This course made me realize that marine biology is the way to go.” “The Kuder assessment was very helpful.”

Coupled with academic advisement, career counseling and assessment tools, students don’t have to feel lost when they ask that all important question – “What do I want to be?”

For additional information, go to or email Or, call (602) 496-0589