Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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

In the first post of this series, two decision-making flaws were presented that explain why students often choose the wrong college, select the wrong major, and ultimately end up in the wrong career. According to Dan and Chip Heath in their new book Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Workthese two flaws are (1) Making “whether or not” decisions and (2) Trusting your instincts. To learn more about these, read the first post in this series.

The following posts in this series will explain three key techniques to break these bad decisions-making habits and make the best choices for the future.
Technique #1: Widen Your Options
The Heath brothers’ first technique is to break out of “whether or not” thinking and expand your list of options.
  • And not Or: Rather than wondering whether or not to pursue a specific major, students should use “and not or” thinking. For example, don’t frame the decision in terms of choosing between a Finance or Marketing major. Turn it into an “and” of Marketing and Finance. This could mean majoring in one and minoring in the other, doing a concentrated study, choosing one as a major but taking advanced classes in the other, or seeking out internships to gain experience in the field outside of your primary major.
When life offers us a ‘this or that’ choice, we should have the gall to ask whether the right answer might be ‘both.’” -Heath brothers

  • Understand Needs: Students should understand what it is they are hoping to gain from a major or what they truly want out of a college experience or in a career. Understanding these underlying needs will better inform students on which decisions will meet their needs the best. Programs like Student Launch Pad help students uncover what they truly value and are passionate about. Answering the “why” allows students more objectivity in determining whether a choice will fully meet their criteria. It also leads to creative thinking on how multiple options could be combined to create the best possible decision.

To continue reading for tips on how to widen your options when making a decision, continue onto the Student Launch Pad blog.

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