Hiram College

Selecting a major area of study can be a difficult decision for today’s college students, as they are often encouraged to weigh several factors before making a final selection. For Bethani Burkhart, director of career and academic development at Hiram College, selecting a major includes self-recognition on a personal level. That’s why she uses a four-phase model beginning with self-evaluation to help students. 

Unsure about a major area of study? Burkhart outlines each of the four phases below:


Students who are unsure of their major or career should begin the process with self-assessment. In order for someone to choose a career or major that best suites them, they must first understand themselves. Self-assessment can include many elements, including values, interests, skills, strengths, and more. There are a variety of self-assessments that are available to students at Hiram. Exploratory students should meet with the Office of Career and Academic Development staff to determine what assessments would be the most beneficial to complete. A vital step of self-assessment is to talk with professional staff after the assessment is complete to discuss results.


Once a student has more knowledge on what they are looking for in a career, the research phase begins. During this phase, students should conduct research on various careers that may fit their interests, skills, and values. Research includes using online resources such as O*NET OnLine, conducting informational interviews with professionals working in the field, job shadowing, and more.


During the decision-making phase, students should compile all of the information that they have collected through assessment and research to determine what career or major they would like to pursue. For those having a difficult time making a decision, even after gaining insight into careers and themselves, meeting with a professional staff member can be helpful.


Implementation is the fourth phase of career development. Once a student has determined which career they would like to pursue, they should begin the implementation phase. This phase includes creating a resume a CV, writing a cover letter, interviewing, and anything else that may be involved with obtaining a career or getting into a graduate program.

Burkhart also explains that the four phases are not always linear. Some students may feel that they need to go back to the self-assessment phase because they need to learn more about themselves before going through the process of researching specific careers. She adds that the four phases are also never complete, as individuals often continue to search for the next step in their professional career or a new goal.

More information on selecting a college major can be found in a recent article featuring Burkhart by Cleveland Jewish News. Read the full article.