Not your average ‘party’

By Mary Kadlec

University of Washington Professor Hunter Schafer has 440 students in his Kane Hall STEM class – and it’s one of two classes that size he teaches. In contrast, students wanting to study Humanities is in precipitous decline. (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times/TNS)

What kind of party guest are you? Are you social? Investigative? Conventional? Eight students discovered the answer to this question on Sept. 17 at DCCC’s Career and Counseling Center’s workshop, “How to Choose Your Major” on the Marple campus, led by Ruth Campbell and graduate intern Amanda Hernandez.

“The Party” is a personality assessment where “guests” choose whom they would be drawn to talk to first at a party based on personality types, according to Campbell.

Campbell, a licensed professional counselor and career counselor has been assisting young adults for most of her life. In 2019, Campbell will receive an award from DCCC for 40 years of service.

“It’s still my favorite thing to do,” Campbell said.

The workshop was one of several in the Career and Counseling Workshop Series, which is a collaboration of staff and counseling faculty across all DCCC campuses. Workshops are free to all students with no preregistration required and some faculty award extra credit for attendance, according to the Career and Counseling Workshop Calendar.

In addition to “The Party” assessment, the workshop included a true/false quiz, facts about majors, review of academic programs, and helpful information to guide students in making the important decision of selecting a major.

“I found the information on the availability of so many programs to be especially helpful,” said Charles Books, a general studies major.

Books is working toward an associate’s degree, but is also considering a certificate in computer-aided drafting. He’s 71, proving it’s never too late to choose a career path.

“There are so many options,” according to Campbell, “Many students are interested in nursing or teaching programs because that is what they are familiar with and they often come into contact with those roles.”

Campbell asked if students were surprised to know DCCC offers a culinary arts program. Another unfamiliar major was hotel and restaurant management.

Campbell began the workshop with administering the true/false quiz about misconceptions of choosing a major, such as “Choosing a major is final.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “Twenty percent of students enter college without a major.”

Some colleges have recently reexamined old rules requiring students to declare a major in the first or second semester. For example, Georgia State used to require first-year students to declare a major until 2013 and within three years of changing that rule, “they saw a 32 percent decrease in the number of major changes among its undergraduates,” according to a 2016 study done by the Education Advisory Board.

Another misconception was, “I need a major that is ‘hot’ in the current job market.”
The job market is one factor to consider, but it’s important for the major to be enjoyable and interesting to students, Campbell said.

Along with wanting to find a job after graduation, students will often select a major based on potential job earnings, according to Campbell.

A 2010 study completed by the National Bureau of Economic Research surveyed students at Duke University and found that expected earnings were an important determinant in the choice of a college major.

Although students were not always accurate about pay potential, they aren’t wrong to consider future job earnings in their choice of college major, as experts say more education means more pay.

Campbell also discussed how “outside influencers” could impact a student’s decision to select a major, such as family, friends, teachers and coaches.

Results from a joint survey by Gallup and Strada Education Network revealed, “Recent college attendees are more likely to use the Internet for advice about their chosen field of study and less likely to consult formal sources like counselors.”

One more misconception on the true/false quiz that Campbell administered was, “There is only one perfect career for each person.”

It is typical for adults to change careers up to 5 times in a lifetime, Campbell said.

Next, Campbell distributed information about “The Party,” an assessment based on the John Holland Career Theory relating personality and environment.

According to Campbell, Holland said there are six different types of people and six types of environments that will suit them. The six types are social, artistic, investigative, enterprising, realistic and conventional.

Campbell described it as, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

“The Party” is a quick and dirty way to get results you would using the Holland code, Campbell said.

Once students ranked their top three preferences, they shared their results. A majority of students selected “realistic.” According to the descriptions Campbell distributed, a “realistic” type is described as people who solve problems by doing, enjoy risk and excitement, like being outdoors and use their body skillfully.

Campbell asked students what made them gravitate to that characteristic. Some students responded that enjoying nature and being outdoors led them to select “realistic.”

“I picked realistic because I am interested in contracting jobs,” said Jamie Messina, 17.

Campbell passed out forms with suggested careers and majors based on the assessment results, as well as a list of helpful websites to research college majors.

Afterward, Campbell explored the DCCC website to show the various degree and certificate programs available to students.

Ruth Campbell gives useful advice to students about major and career decisions on Sept. 17 at the Marple campus. Photo by Mary Kadlec

Campbell said many majors have some observation component or field study, which is useful to people considering those majors before they make a commitment.

Once Campbell reviewed the academic programs, she answered questions and encouraged students to come to the Career Center for more assistance.

The Career and Counseling Center provides free service, but you do need an appointment, Campbell said.

Messina, an undecided first-year student from Folsom, said he is leaning toward a degree in engineering or cyber security. He attended the workshop as part of his career readiness course at DCCC and he plans to do more research on the engineering program before making an appointment with a career counselor.

Books said he had several career shifts in his lifetime. Working on an assembly line, coding machines, and clerical work are some of the jobs he has done as an adult.

“I didn’t have as many options out of high school,” Books said. “And I didn’t have the grades to get into some of the more difficult programs.”

Campbell thanked the students for attending the workshop and reminded them of an upcoming career event in the STEM lobby on Oct. 16 and 17.

“I love the variety in career counseling,” Campbell said at the end of the workshop. “No two days are the same.”

Contact Mary Kadlec at

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