As a psychologist with UC Davis Counseling Services, I know from long experience that choosing a major and getting started on a career path can be overwhelming for college students. Counseling Services is here to help!
We meet with many students who are in the process of choosing or changing their major and/or trying to figure out how to reach their career goals. Counseling is confidential, and there is no charge for registered students.
Our mission is to help students realize their academic and personal goals. Each year we see about 4,000 students (12 percent of all students) who come to discuss a wide range of academic and personal concerns. Counseling Services has 35 counselors, including psychologists, social workers and marriage and family therapists, based in two main locations — North Hall opposite The Quad, and the Student Health and Wellness Center near the Activities and Recreation Center — as well as a dozen other campus locations.
Here are four steps you can take to create a happy and fulfilling college experience at UC Davis:
1. Come to our office for career testing
Taking this career counseling step will help clarify your career goals at UC Davis. Counseling Services uses tests such as the Strong Interest Inventory, a research-based test that has been used and refined over the past 90 years for career assessment.
The test asks hundreds of multiple-choice questions about what you like and dislike, and then compares your interests with those of people who work in thousands of different types of jobs. The greater the similarity, the greater the chance that your interests are a good match for a particular career.
The test also shows your interest in six general occupational themes:
- Artistic — creating, designing, writing, self-expression
- Social — helping or teaching others, usually in a collaborative work setting
- Investigative — conducting scientific research, working with ideas, often working independently
- Realistic — practical hands-on work, often with plants or animals or using tools and equipment to build or fix things
- Conventional — organizing and processing data, writing reports
- Enterprising — managing people and projects, persuading and leading, often in a business or large organization
No test can tell you what major or career to choose, but it may confirm your current choice or open your eyes to new possibilities.
2. Join our career exploration groups
After students take career interest and personality tests in our office, they can discuss their test results in a group of eight to 10 students that our office convenes called Undergraduate Career Exploration Groups. In this setting, you can learn about yourself by comparing and contrasting your goals with other students who also are in the process of choosing a major and/or career path. Your peers may spark ideas for your future that you never considered.
3. Take advantage of individual counseling to improve your academics
Individual counseling can help you focus on how to improve your study habits, improve communication with professors, and use tutoring centers and other campus resources. We also work with you to find a work-life balance and overall wellness at UC Davis that is the basis of thriving at college.
4. Seek individual counseling to improve your personal life
Counseling helps you with your personal life — for example, settling in and making new friends at UC Davis, improving relationships with friends and family, avoiding misuse of alcohol and other substances, and learning to cope more effectively with stress. Problems in these and other areas may limit your ability to function in school. Addressing them and feeling well is likely to help you focus and reach your educational goals.
To schedule an appointment with a counselor, call 752-0871. For additional information, check out the Student Health and Counseling Services website.
Roy Grabow earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Michigan State University and his doctorate in clinical psychology at Auburn University. He has over 35 years of professional experience, and for the last 10 years has worked as a psychologist with UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services.