How do you choose a major?

Your school counselors keep asking you what you’re going to study, your parents continue to gently prod you to choose a major, but you still haven’t figured it out. It’s frustrating because Suzy knows what she is going to study, she’s known since the fifth grade. She’s going to become a biochemist, and at this point you feel like you might live under the shadow of “major: undefined” for the rest of your life.

The search for a major that is right for you is frustrating, confusing and seemingly endless, but it doesn’t need to be.

What is a major and why do I need to choose one?

A major is a term to describe a specialization in a certain subject in college. Majors range from biology to physics, English to psychology, and music to theater. There are so many major programs to choose from, allowing you to pick something you love and would potentially want a career in.

It is difficult to choose your path of study, but you are not alone in that journey, and I am here to help. I won’t be able to tell you specifically what you should choose to study, but I can give you some tools to help you narrow down your search and choose something that is right for you.

 

  1. What do you like and enjoy?

You have heard the word passion thrown around. What is your passion? What are you passionate about? I have heard these questions; I have posed these questions, and it always leaves me feeling unfulfilled.

Mental Trick: Replace the word “passion” with the words “like” and “enjoy”. Those things are a great indicator of what you love and care about, and in the end, you might discover that you are passionate about them.

 

  1. What are your career goals?

Setting career goals will help you choose a major. Having a clear vision of where you want to be and where you want to go with your future career is key. If you know what you want to do as a career, you will be able to align your studies with that.

 

  1. Talk to your friends and family

Your friends and family know you best and can be a great resource for determining what you would like to study.

Talk to your parents about what they have noticed you are passionate about, what they have seen you excel in and the pros and cons of certain paths of study. Your parents know you and want the best for you and it is beneficial to speak with them about these big decisions.

 

  1. Talk to your advisers and counselors

Your high school and college advisers get paid to help you figure out your life. They have worked with many students before you, and they can tell you about program offerings and opportunities. It is important to have specific questions for your counselor: what should I major in if I want to pursue_____? What classes should I take outside of my major? How can I make the most out of my college classes?

 

  1. Choose the right school for you

There are so many universities to choose from that each have hundreds of programs to choose from. Some universities specialize in certain programs, so select a university that specializes in your chosen field.

 

  1. You can also do a minor

Maybe you’re like me, and you are torn between two things that you want to study. For me that was music and communications. I love music, but I also love writing.  I felt drawn to studying communications because it incorporated many of my interests. I didn’t want to sacrifice music for communications, but I also knew that studying music wasn’t the path for me.

Lucky for you (and me), we can do a minor!

A minor allows you to take a smaller amount of credits in a program different from your major. You can get the best of both worlds.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to explore

You might have the perception that you need to know exactly what you’re doing once you get to college, and that’s not true. If you don’t know what you want to study, that’s OK! Ask yourself what you like and enjoy, things you are interested in learning, and skills you want to gain. Then, begin exploring. Exploration can help you narrow down the list of what you’d like to study and what you don’t want to study.

 

Choosing a major, going off to college, and beginning this next phase in your journey is daunting. There are so many questions, and sometimes it feels like you might never figure it out. But you will. You are not alone in trying to choose a major, and you will make the best choice for you, and that’s what really matters.

 

Have you ever considered digital marketing as a major? Digital marketing is a great, and fun, way to combine many interests into one field of study. Learn more here.

Categories: College

27 Comments

Connor · December 5, 2019 at 3:39 am

Great little article! Made me go back and really think about why I chose mine.

Sherry Bateman · December 5, 2019 at 3:40 am

Very informative

John Bateman · December 5, 2019 at 3:50 am

This is a great summary that will help those needing to decide on a major. My only additional thought is that students should know that it OK to start down one path and then change their minds. You do not have to have it all figured out on the first day of freshman year. The key is to get started and adjust as you go along. Don’t worry too much about the end if you are only at the beginning!

Shay · December 5, 2019 at 3:56 am

This has some really great tips! Sometimes it just takes time to try things out. It took me 7 major changes to find mine! I think working though those questions could really help speed up the process though!

Lisa · December 5, 2019 at 3:59 am

Excellent advice!!! I like the “don’t be afraid to explore” because sometimes you find your passion where you least expect it!!

Jeremy Halversen · December 5, 2019 at 4:01 am

Remember that college is expensive. In general you should only spend lots of money on expensive things in two cases: 1) you have the money and can afford the expense, or 2) you’re spending the money as an investment can expect a return on that investment. When choosing a college major, if you are hoping to earn your money back and more, you need to rationally narrow down your options to something that prepares you to earn a return. Anxiety and stress often come to college students late in their degrees when they begin to realize that they chose something they “like” rather than choosing something at the intersection of interests and value. The earlier students can realize that, the less stress they will experience down the road when their reality fails to meet their expectations. Remember that college needs to be viewed as an investment.

Julianna Sheffield · December 5, 2019 at 4:01 am

Some good advice here, especially about being able to minor in something that you don’t necessarily major in. I guess if you are very ambitious there is also double majoring although that is definitely alot more work.

Erik · December 5, 2019 at 4:12 am

Great piece! Lots of good information here and an enjoyable read too. I’d add that different majors typically draw different personalities. It may be beneficial to think about the people you will be surrounded by within a given major. That being said, this is more of an on average approach, as you will find all kinds of personalities within each major.

John Thompson · December 5, 2019 at 5:28 am

Great ideas!! One thing that helped me was getting work experience in different fields, even though I wasn’t ready for them. Every opportunity to try new things can really help! I think exploring is one of the best things you can do!

Adam Cook · December 5, 2019 at 5:39 am

This article has some goods thoughts!

Brendon · December 5, 2019 at 6:07 am

I wish I had this when I was deciding on a major or actually had done some of these things. It would of definitely helped me. Use these hints if you are reading this!

Hannah · December 5, 2019 at 6:16 am

I think I will recommend this to my sister! She is trying to figure out her major right now

Seth · December 5, 2019 at 6:40 am

I totally relate to this… When I was younger, I thought that I was supposed to have my whole future planned out by the time I got to college. It seemed like everyone else was blessed with some early-life epiphany and knew exactly what academic and professional career path they wanted to follow by the time they graduated high school. I was not so lucky. It’s taken a lot of classwork, talking to classmates, prodding from parents, getting to know my professors, and, most importantly, getting work experience to narrow down the infinite options down to a few. Even as a senior, I’m not totally sure of what I want to do. Coming to accept that it may take most of my working years to find my niche has been hard to swallow. Yet, the point is that I find it, regardless of the amount of time it takes to do so.

Courtney Lawson · December 5, 2019 at 6:48 am

I LOVE the exchange of “passion” for “like” and “enjoy”. I’ve heard so many friends say that they’ve never been passionate about themselves, and therefore convincing themselves that no specific path was right for them, but I see that this change of phrasing can have a great effect on what individuals choose to study.

Additionally, I love the reassurance that it’s okay to not know what path or major to choose. I don’t find that often stated, especially in high schools. Thank you for providing that comfort!

Matt K · December 5, 2019 at 7:08 am

Well written, entering college without a clear goal really can be daunting.

Dylan · December 5, 2019 at 7:10 am

Wow this a great article about choosing a major! I myself am in uni and struggling to know what major would be best for me. There are a couple of points that I didn’t even think of, like asking my friends what they know me to like/enjoy, because often I can’t seem to put my finger on it. Thanks to the author

Destinee · December 5, 2019 at 10:36 am

Useful article, thanks 🙂
Honestly, me choosing to read this right now is quite fitting. Currently I’ve decided to just pick a “practical” major because the ones I would actually want won’t work for my family situation. And haha I just finished watching Monsters University, and it reminded me of how exciting it was when I thought I was going to be majoring in filmmaking at BYU. Sort of has me depressed right now, but I’ll be alright 🙂 I’ll figure it all out eventually.
Anyways- sorry for leaving practically a diary here lol.

Sean Kennedy · December 5, 2019 at 11:20 am

I have seen that many people struggle with picking a major and often get overwhelmed by too many options or wanting to do to many things. I like that his article doesn’t simply offer a single magic answer but mentions a good mix of things that together can offer life direction for the person trying to figure out their life. For me having career goals was what finally set me on an actual idea of what I wanted.

Nate · December 5, 2019 at 4:30 pm

I really like the point about talking to your parents and those that know you well. Talking to my folks has helped me a ton with to figure out what I should major in.

Gillian · December 5, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Choosing a Major is so hard 😂 thanks for the advice!

Gillian · December 5, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Choosing a Major is hard, but this is great advice!

Daniel · December 5, 2019 at 8:19 pm

I already have a major, but if I didn’t then this would be very helpful.

Lauren · December 5, 2019 at 9:35 pm

What an organized and structured article to go through! Thanks for allowing us to get some clarity in this challenging decision-making process.

Taylor · December 6, 2019 at 1:05 am

Those are some great ideas!

Aidan · December 6, 2019 at 1:26 am

What a great, simple way to put a complicated problem. Its easy to overthink it- seems like these tips can be really beneficial in order to try to simplify things. Thanks for sharing!

Spencer · December 6, 2019 at 4:04 am

#1 and #6 are my favorites. Thinking about things I like is easier than things I have a passion for. And knowing that I can do a minor in something else is also nice since I want to branch out as well.

Tevis · December 7, 2019 at 5:02 pm

Great read! I particularly liked the bit about renaming ‘passions’ to ‘likes’.

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