Career Research

You’ve made it to UALR. Congratulations! Now what?

We are proud to have you on our campus! You’ve made it this far and accomplished so much. Merely the fact that you are here means that you want to achieve your dreams, whatever your dreams may be.

However, you may not know exactly how to reach your dreams. Perhaps you aren’t sure what kind of career you would like to pursue after your time here at UALR. Or maybe you’re not sure which major will best give you the tools you need to realize your goals.

That is okay! Many people have been unsure of what they should study and gone on to be very successful.

However, your time is valuable, so now is the time to do some research, and make an informed decision.  At any time, if you have questions, we encourage you to Think the Link! Our staff is here to support you.

First let’s start with a little information about what exactly a major is:

What is a department, school, or college?

The organizational structure of a university can seem pretty strange. Some of that is due to what names each divisions take. For instance, in general conversation “college” and “university” are used interchangeably. However, at institutions like UALR, they mean two different things.

An institution as a whole is the university. The university is made up of a number of colleges. Each college is made up of a number of schools and departments. Each school and department has one or more major that students can study. A good graphic explanation of this can be found here.

What is a major? What is a double-major?

A major is a specific area of study beyond the required core courses. Your major is what you will hope to get your degree in. For instance, those that declare an Anthropology major will work to earn an Anthropology degree, in this case a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology.

A double-major is just what it sounds like; two declared majors. Those who successfully complete a double-major will graduate with two degrees instead of one.

What is a minor?

A minor is similar to a major in that it is a specific area of study, but it does not require as many courses to complete. Students often declare a minor to add an extra competency to their degree which might make them more marketable after graduation. Unlike majors, however, students cannot earn a degree for a minor. Some majors require that their students declare a minor, while other majors do not. Talk to your advisor to see if your program of interest does require it.

Do students have to declare a major?

Yes. In order to graduate, every student must declare a major. UALR does not require that a major be declared at a certain time during a student’s academic career, only that one be declared at some point before applying for graduation.

Is it best to declare a major sooner?

Generally speaking, yes. Once students declare a major, they will then get advised in their major’s department or school. This means that declared students have a better chance to form relationships with their major’s faculty and staff, receive important information from that major, and be eligible to apply for scholarships and awards from their major’s college and department or school. However, students should take care to do their research and make sure that they really do wish to pursue a major before declaring it.

Aren't students automatically declared?

No. Currently students at UALR start out as undeclared until they formally declare a major. Sometimes students believe they have already declared a major when they applied. It’s true that the UALR application asks students to click on a major in which they are interested.  However, as it says, this only indicates a student’s interest; it does not mean a student has declared a major. Also, students might believe that since they have taken a number of classes towards a major, that they are declared. This is not true. Taking classes in towards a major does not mean that a student has declared a major.

Can a major be changed?

Yes. Students are free to change their majors as often as they choose. However, depending on how close any given student is to graduating, changing a major may result in adding more time required to graduate. Thus, it is advised that students do not declare a major without some serious thought, and that students consult an advisor to determine the consequences of changing a major before requesting to do so.

How does one declare a major?

In order to declare a major, students must meet with an adviser from the college, school, or department that oversees that major.

Now, that we know a little something about majors, let’s do some career research!

Before choosing a major, it is probably a good idea to start with figuring out your ultimate career goal. You may not know exactly what your ultimate career goal is, and that is okay! Many folks still do not know “what they want to be when they grow up,” so to speak.

Below are some steps that should help you along your way in researching careers, or you can see this whole process as a pdf here.

How to Research Career Options in 9 Easy Steps

By Rachel Jones

1. Think about who you are

Keep in mind your interests, personality, skills, and passions! Think about what kind of work environment you’d enjoy, what level of income would you be satisfied with, etc.

As you move through these steps, remember the goal is to know as much as you can about yourself and each career option you’re considering in order to determine if a career path is right for you.

2. Assess your personality

Take online personality assessments to learn more about your strengths, values, and personality.

Note: You can’t expect any interest survey to be 100% accurate–but they can give you some interesting feedback that you can use to determine if certain careers would be a good fit for you.

Try these websites:

Life Values Inventory

My Next Move

CareerZone

3. Assess your career interest

Note: You can’t expect any interest survey to be 100% accurate–but they can give you some food for thought.

My Next Move

Career One Stop

CareerZone

4. Use your support network

Speak with your friends and family who are good listeners. Using your support network will help you think through options. They can also pose thought provoking questions for you to consider as you’re researching possible careers.

5. Explore career options

To research and explore career options, use websites like:

Bureau of Labor Statistics

My Next Move

College Majors 101

Job Shadow

Career One Stop

O*Net Online

6. Speak with a counselor

Think the Link! Our staff is here to support you with researching careers.

7. Visit your professors

Speak with your professors to find out how your education may work with career options you’ve identified. Ask questions using the research you’ve done.

8. Engage with careers

Do internships, co-ops, job shadowing, or informational interviews with people in the field to wee what the career is really like.

9. Narrow your choices

Narrow your choices, but don’t feel trapped. Declaring a major does not always determine your career. The skills you’ve gained from your education can be applied to a variety of careers.

Are you still having trouble? No worries! You can always Think the Link! Our staff is here to support you with researching a career.

Let’s recap: you now know the difference between a major and a minor, you know that you’re going to have to declare a major at some point, and you’ve done some research on some careers in which you might be interested. Great news! You’re now one step closer to declaring your major. Now let’s take a look at what majors are available to you. Click here.