How to choose a college, major, or career: Part IV

Big decisions are daunting. Choosing the right college, selecting a major that will set you up for success, and determining a good career fit are all choices that students face. In the midst of these big decisions, how can students make the best possible choices for their future? The Heath brothers, in their book Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work, give a lot of applicable techniques for setting yourself up for decision-making success. This blog series has focused on: The last technique for students to apply before making a final decision is to test out that decision first. Technique #3: Testing the Decision Before making a big choice, wouldn’t it be better to test out if you liked the choice first? That’s exactly what the Heath brothers suggest in their tip to “ooch” before you jump. “Ooching” essentially means “running small experiments to test our theories. Rather than jumping in headfirst, we dip a toe in” (Decisive).
Examples of mini-experiments: Visit colleges before deciding on one and sit in on a class before determining a major.

Examples of mini-experiments: Visit colleges before deciding on one and sit in on a class before determining a major.

  • Conduct mini-experiments: 
    • Before choosing a college, go on college visits, tour different campuses, and talk to students at the various colleges.
    • Before selecting a major, ask probing questions to students or professors in the major, sit in on a few classes, or take one class in the major first before deciding.
    • Before determining a career path, network with people in careers that interest you.
      • Informational interviews provide risk-free exposure to a career by simply asking a businessman or woman for thirty minutes to an hour of their time to ask them questions.
      • Shadowing someone for a day also provides you with the opportunity to see firsthand what “the day in the life of [fill in the blank]” is like.
    • The ultimate “mini experiment” into a career is to get an internship in that that field. Knowing you can test out a career for 3 months over the summer takes the pressure off deciding on a career path without adequate knowledge of what it’s like. It’s important to also vary your experience in internships with different types of businesses or companies within that field. With this approach, you can test out what environment fits you best within a specific field.
In the words of the Heath brothers, “Why would we ever predict what we can know?”
With these three techniques of widening your options, changing perspectives, and testing out the decision, students can be better equipped to avoid decision-making pitfalls and confidently choose the best direction for their future.  

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