6 Tips for Choosing a Major
So you’re getting ready for your first semester of college, or you’re heading back for round 2 or 3, but you still have that pesky ‘undecided’ label for a major. Obviously, you need to choose a major, most schools will start to pressure you if you haven’t declared by at least the end of your sophomore year, but how do you go about it? I typed in a google search of help choosing a major and a lot of what I found were a few interesting and somewhat useful tips, but a lot of What Should I Major In? quizzes. While this may be a place to start to narrow down a general field or department, it’s not the best for a full on definite choice.
I have a few conventional and not so conventional tips on choosing a major. They might not be step by step instructions to figure out what you want to do, but they will help you and guide you to people who can, or help yourself figure it out over time.
While I don’t suggest you take the test entirely to heart, it’s a good way to figure out the type of person you are. Some of you might already know that and are completely happy not having to take a test that gives you a label, which is totally fine. If you need more clarity and something to start with, this can help. It quantifies bits of your personality (usually pretty well, to a degree) which can help you with ideas of a possible job you’d like, which you can consider choosing a major for and try it out. And usually, there’s a nice link you can click on that has career options for your result or you could, you know, google that. I’m apparently and INFJ, which after some googling, I very much agree with.
Talk to your school’s Career Services
Or whatever similar program they might have. They’re there for the reason to help students (and sometimes alumni) choosing a major and get help finding jobs. (This can also work if you’re looking for part-time jobs during school because money is awesome) These advisers are there to help you. The worst that can happen is that you get stuck with someone useless who hasn’t really helped or hurt your situation.
Talk to your adviser
Everyone’s given one when they start school. They’re there to help you with your schedule, but why not try talking to them about choosing a major? They may not be completely helpful, but you might find out what you don’t want to do. My school gave the undeclared freshman a random adviser from any department. My first adviser was in the science building.
Take some random classes to see what you like
If you’re a freshman and you still have the chance to take a variety of classes without it really hurting your schedule, do it. I never really did this because I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but getting a glimpse of the basics of a major is a good way to see if you like it or you just like the idea of it.
Story Time: I took a communications course my freshman year and about halfway through it, we had a major project due. The professor spent almost every lab going over everyone’s name that I had no idea what this project was supposed to be or how to do it. All I knew is it needed to be in the dreaded APA format, something every English major tends to scratch their head at since we’ve had MLA shoved down our throats since we started writing essays in grade school. I dropped the class and switched to an English major. While I don’t completely regret this decision, I enjoy writing, I had a pretty crap English department at my school with only a few good professors in the creative writing area, so I got stuck taking a lot of lit courses I really didn’t want to.
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Think back to your hobbies
If you really have no idea what you want to do, think about what you do for fun. While things like playing video games or watching TV won’t really help you, there may be something about that you like. Maybe you could help design video games or work for a TV program. There are definite majors that incorporate that. (Or you could make that a minor) My love of writing is what prompted me to declare an English major, and my love of music made me squeeze my way into the music school for 2 minors and just confused the hell out of everyone involved.
Ask your friends what you’re good at
This is similar to LinkedIn’s “skills and expertise” section where you can add skills you’re good at and people can endorse you for them. Sometimes you find out that people are endorsing you for skills you didn’t know you were good at. For instance, I’m bad at thinking I’m good at something, so when about 20 people endorsed me for blogging, I was a bit shocked.
Things to remember when choosing a major:
- Take into consideration that you’ll have to stick to one major eventually.
- If you pick a major you hate just because it will make you money, you’re probably going to hate your job.
- On the flip side, if you choose a major you love but won’t make a lot of money, take that into consideration. You may end up having to get a Master’s in your field or be stuck freelancing to get by after graduation.
- Take things seriously. If you don’t know about your major and try to get a job, you’re kind of screwed.
- Consider a minor in something you find interesting but not enough to
- Always pick up internships so you can see the different sides of the field you chose. Also, internships are rad. I failed to do that.
**NOTE: Failure to declare a major by junior year may result in having to stay longer due to lack of appropriate credits. Don’t rush the decision, but don’t put in on the back burner either.