How to choose a major in undergraduate school

By Dana Davis, director, Columbia College-Hunter Army Air Field

hunter army air field, director, dana davisSo, what is a major? A major is a specific subject area that students specialize in. Typically, between one-third and one-half of the courses you take in college will be in your major. In most cases, general education classes will be the same, which gives you some time to select a major if you are unsure, but be sure to check the college’s policy about changing and adding majors.

So, how do you pick the right major? Take elective courses in areas that appeal to you and then decide which subject motivates you most. Do a self-assessment of your interests. What types of things excite you? What types of jobs or careers appeal to you? Examine your abilities and determine your strengths and weaknesses.

If you plan to pursue a master’s degree, staying informed of admissions requirements can save you from having to complete pre-requisite classes after you’ve earned your undergraduate degree. Instead, just take those classes in your elective area or add a minor.

When I sit down with students, I ask them what they aspire to be after they earn a degree. Then, I challenge them to find postings for those jobs and see what the requirements are. Our faculty is also a great resource; ask them how they got where they are in their careers. This can help determine your major(s) and minor.

Our pamphlets provide a list of possible careers. A degree in criminal justice, for example, can be a stepping stone for jobs such as corrections officer, juvenile justice officer, paralegal, police officer, youth advocate and many more! A degree in human services can lead to jobs as case manager, consultant, social worker, child welfare worker and many more! For more possible careers stop by and pick up a pamphlet at your campus.

Plus, you can access the Grossnickle Career Services Center online. The center’s website has an entire section on major and career exploration to help you find the right major for you and to define your career goals. Our staff is here to help you get where you want to go!

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Welcome to CC 360!

CC 360 survey graphicWere you one of the many students who took an online survey during the summer of 2014 for the chance to win a Starbucks gift card or $100 MBS book voucher?

If so, thank you! Your voice for an online newsletter was heard, and Columbia College is proud to introduce the first edition of CC 360, the digital newsletter for students of the Evening, Online and Nationwide campuses!

Last summer, students had the opportunity to take a survey about how they receive information about Columbia College and their local campus. The first 500 survey takers received a Starbucks gift card, and 36 lucky respondents – one from each campus – won a $100 MBS book voucher.

Now for each academic session, you’ll find the latest edition of CC 360 in your inbox. You can also access the newsletter anytime from your campus CC Connected page. Check out what you get with each newsletter:

The perks

  • News about your campus
  • Articles about campus resources like career services, online library tools, financial aid and scholarship opportunities
  • Important dates to remember
  • Links to the CC homepage, alumni homepage, CC Connected, bookstore, in-seat and online course schedules and social media
  • See what’s popular and stay connected with the “Trending on CC Connected” feature

Share your voice

  • Leave feedback by liking articles or leaving comments
  • Share the newsletter with friends and fellow students on social media
  • Submit your own story ideas for CC 360
  • Peruse related articles and social media to find out what’s going on with CC all over the world

CC 360 delivers relevant content to help you with your studies, take advantage of all the resources available to you and keep you connected with Columbia College. Thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for the October edition!
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Four things you have to do after a job interview

Job interview graphicYou got the interview. You nailed it. Now what?

Or maybe, you went to an interview and you just aren’t sure how it went. You’re ambivalent or downright upset about the way it went. It’s easy to forget the whole thing and move on, but here are four things to consider after the interview.

  • Send a thank-you note. Whether hand-written or through email, send a note. These are best when they are specific to the conversation you had during the interview and can be an opportunity to reinforce or restate key skills you bring to the position.
  • Follow up. In the interview, you probably asked about a timeline for a decision. If you haven’t heard from the employer by their deadline, reach out to them.
  • Keep practicing. Interviewing is an acquired skill. Contact Career Services ( or 573-875-7425) and ask them for assistance. Our career specialists can do mock interviews, work with you on specific questions and give you honest feedback.
  • Continue your search. While waiting to hear back from the employer, keep applying. Until you have officially accepted an offer, you want to keep pursuing positions. Even interviews you are sure went perfectly – you never know.

Didn’t get the job? Career Services recommends a Business 2 Community article, which has a couple of suggestions to add. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback to see why another candidate was chosen over you. This can help you hone your interview skills and turn a “no” into a beneficial learning experience.

Also, regardless of how the interview went, connect with your interviewer on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. This will help you stay in the interviewer’s mind for future openings, and keep you informed of other job openings.

For more great career tips and resources, visit the Career Services Facebook page.
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Behind the scenes of Wikipedia

Wikipedia mobile phoneWe’ve all done it at some point. A burning curiosity or desire to quickly know the answer to something leads us to firing up Wikipedia, where information is immediately at our fingertips. “Wiki” is Hawaiian for quick, after all. Now that the August Session has started, you likely have at least one class that will require you to do some research. Is Wikipedia a good source? Is it accurate and credible?

To test the accuracy of Wikipedia, Nature, a respected science research journal, conducted a study in 2006 to compare Wikipedia to the Encyclopedia Britannica. It looked at 50 Wikipedia topics and found an average of four errors per entry, while the Encyclopedia Britannica averaged three errors per entry. Not bad.

Still, there are many critics of Wikipedia. In fact, the founder of Wikipedia himself, Jimmy Wales, has discouraged the use of Wikipedia for serious research in a 2006 article. You may even have instructors who will not accept Wikipedia as a source for your assignments. With more than 75,000 active contributors to Wikipedia, the content is always changing and therefore cannot always be assumed to be accurate. Some entries will even indicate that the content is biased.

Wikipedia is overseen by administrators who monitor and edit content for bias and accuracy. Well-developed entries will not state opinions and will cite sources. Used properly, Wikipedia can provide a starting place to help you find credible sources as you dig deeper.

The Stafford Library at Columbia College offers this behind-the-scenes look at Wikipedia to help you understand the pros and cons of using this free encyclopedia.

And don’t forget, the Stafford Library is a great place to start your research on any topic. And if you need help, you can call, email or even chat online with a library staffer who will help you find what you’re looking for!

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It’s not too late to scholarship hunt

scholarship education graphicDoes this sound familiar? The summer is over and you didn’t exactly apply for all the college scholarships you intended to. School has started and you’re unsure of where to start your scholarship search. Searching online is daunting and you’ve got homework, a job and family to juggle. What to do?

“I usually encourage students to look at local opportunities first,” says Rachel Smith, student success advisor at Columbia College. “The perk of local competition is there is a smaller pool of applicants.”

Smith recommends starting your search with organizations in your hometown, such as your employer, local businesses, religious organizations, and community and civic organizations. She also suggests checking with your local high school, which usually keeps lists of local scholarship opportunities.

“Most of these opportunities are not limited to entering college students, even though we might perceive them that way. Some of the larger high schools will publish the list on their guidance counselor’s website.”

She recommends checking out “7 Ways to Find Local College Scholarships” on for more helpful tips to get rolling on your local search.

But what about searching for scholarships online?

“Online scholarship searches are one of the most under-utilized tools for paying for school,” says Smith. “There are all kinds of scholarships out there.”

She points to U.S. News and World Report, which compared five free scholarship search engines. Each search engine is a little different, and one of them even allows students to utilize social media to vote and determine a weekly scholarship winner based on the popularity of their discussions.

Plus, don’t forget Columbia College offers myriad scholarship opportunities. Your local campus awards at least one scholarship each year, so inquire at your campus office. Visit the Columbia College Scholarship Finder page for a complete listing, and keep an eye on the Student Success Money Stacks Facebook page for daily tips on private scholarship opportunities and how to live large on a budget.

Smith’s final tip on searching for scholarships is to not shy away from smaller scholarship amounts – a bunch of small ones add up to a large amount, after all.

“Searching and applying for online scholarships can take some work. But think about it in amount earned per hour: If you spend 20 hours filling out applications to win a $500 scholarship, that’s like getting paid $25 per hour. I would say that’s not too bad for your time.”

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