BYU student discuss motives behind choosing a major

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Every BYU student at one point or another has been asked the question, “What are you majoring in?” For students who know what they are studying, this question is an easy conversation starter. However, for students who do not know what they are studying, this question can often cause anxiety. 

Keith Proctor, who serves as the associate director of the University Advisement Center, said he and other advisors can help students on their post-graduation path once they are able to identify what they want to do. Proctor said his office has many resources available for students and understands they need help with direction in their lives.

Keith Proctor explains the process students will go through when they meet with advisors about deciding a major. Proctor serves as the associate director of the University Advisement Center. (Kaitlyn Schreiner)

For students who are unsure about their post-graduation plans, Proctor recommends the free career assessment Type Focus. He said although this is not a “crystal ball,” it can give students a baseline of the things they might be interested in.

In his position, Proctor helps students to figure out what they like and why they like it. He said it is important for students to identify their passions because “if they really love something, they are going to learn it really well, and will succeed with it in the long run.”

One of the main reasons why choosing a major is so stressful, Proctor said, is because a student’s major outlines their future. They are making a transition from what they will do to who they will become.

Proctor is not the only one who feels this way, as Jeannine Jones has seen this process take place in her own life. Jones is a junior in the exercise science program and is working towards a career as a nurse midwife. However, she said this career path was not always a part of her plan.

Coming to college, Jones was not exactly sure of what she was going to study, but she knew she wanted to help people. She initially wanted to major in biochemistry, but through the process of prayer, she said she received revelation this wasn’t the right major for her.

Jones shared how being a nurse midwife combined the things she was passionate about with her own personality. She said some of the catalysts in helping her make this decision were others, God and taking time for herself to figure out what she wanted to be. Having a clear end goal in mind is what Jones said assisted her in the process of choosing a major and working towards a career she loves. 

“It is very clear to me now that part of the way that the Lord guides our path in all of this is by placing desires into our hearts to do good things in the world,” Proctor said. “And it’s by following those desires to do good that we often identify new areas of interest to us or we develop new skill sets or we find more meaning and value in our lives.”

Jason Alder is a continuing student at BYU and will begin his master’s program in public administration with a focus in federal and state government in the fall of 2023. Alder has seen how passion and the Lord have played a part in his own journey of choosing a major. 

Alder said, “It is important to be passionate about your major. You want something that you are going to enjoy learning and possibly doing for work.”

Alder said he believes it is important that all students take the time to identify their passions. He invites all students to “invest in yourself and really identify what makes you happy. Then chase that as far as it will get you.” 

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