It’s your first week of college. Monday morning in class the teacher has everyone introduce themselves with their name and major. Later, you meet a new girl while walking home and she asks, “What are you majoring in?” That night you meet your boyfriend’s family and the dad asks, “What are you studying in school?” By the end of the day it feels like you’ve been asked seven times what your major is. The thoughts in your head are something like, “I don’t know what I’m majoring in or doing with my life. I’m still trying to figure out what a syllabus is.” If you’ve ever been in college, then these scenarios may sound familiar.
Deciding what to major in is often the most paralyzing choice a student has to make, and students are reminded of it on a daily basis!
Maybe you’ve felt the weight of this decision. Perhaps you are afraid of picking the wrong major. This article will answer some basic questions such as: what is a major, how to I choose one and what resources will help me? Finding these answers will help you come closer to knowing the answer to your “major” question.
- What is a college major?
A college major is an area of study or specialization that a student focuses on while they are pursuing a college degree. It includes completing a group of courses required by a college in order to receive a degree. A major doesn’t have to encompass everything you love and want to do, it’s just something to give you a foundation for your career.
- How should I choose a major?
Here are three things to consider.
- Abilities: what are you good at? What can you contribute to the world?
- Interests: what do you find enjoyable and interesting? What courses are your favorite?
- Employment opportunities and income: Are there jobs available in this field? Does it provide the income you are seeking?
Once you’ve answered these questions, remember that you don’t have to make this major of a choice without outside help.
- What resources can help me decide?
- Career advisors: These advisors are put in place to help you with the logistics of different majors and career paths.
- Peers and parents: These people know you well, they may have a good sense of what careers would be a good fit for you. Peers will also be candid about the pros and cons of their majors.
- Informational interviews or shadowing: This gives you more first-hand experience of what it might be like to end up in a particular field or major. This is a great setting to seek answers to specific questions and concerns.
Choosing a major can be stressful. It may feel like you’re having to decide your entire life with one little declaration. Let’s alleviate some of this pressure with a couple tips.
- What should I remember during this process?
- You have time. Often students get exposure to different classes their first year of college and decide sometime after their freshman year.
- You can change majors. It is okay to switch if you get into a major and realize you don’t like it. This doesn’t have to be a permanent choice.
- Your major doesn’t necessarily determine your career. Careers adapt and change, your major is simply a launching point.
One student explained, “I started my freshman year of college so set on what I would major in. Around my sophomore year, I discovered a major that I also loved. It used more of my abilities and had more reliable job prospects. Switching wasn’t too hard. I used my experiences from freshman year in my new major.”
- What should I take away from all this?
When selecting a major, consider your abilities, interests and employment opportunities. If a major suits you in these categories, ask career advisors, peers and shadow professionals to confirm your choice. Recognize that you have time and can change majors if you start going down a path you don’t enjoy.
Choosing your major is a process which requires time and research. Imagine the day when someone asks, “What are you majoring in?” and you can give an enthusiastic reply.
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