College is one of the most exciting, and one of the most stressful times of our lives. It's our first taste of freedom and the first true step of adulthood. In the beginning of college, every person has, at one point or another, worried about making the right decision of what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives. One of the most common concerns in when beginning college is focused around the topic of declaring a major. The stress of picking a major right away raises some heavy questions: have I picked the right major? Can I find a good job after graduation with my major? Do the jobs that consider my major make enough money to support the lifestyle I want to lead? If you’re currently struggling with the choice of a major, try to remind yourself (as I need to daily): it’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life. That being said, in the meantime of the inevitable existential crisis, here are some tips on how to choose the right major for you.
1. Think of your strengths and weaknesses.
What classes were you good at in high school? What classes were you not successful in? Are you more of a critical or analytical thinker? Knowing what you are good at, and what you are not skilled in can be the first step to narrowing down your decisions.
2. Talk to older students and your Academic Advisors.
The best way to deal with something you’re struggling with is to talk to someone who has already been through it, and may still be working through it themselves. Ask for advice from older students, whether they be your peer mentor's, a friend’s sibling, or even a professor you feel comfortable with. Consider your Academic Advisors as well. That’s what they’re here for!
3. Consider your long term goals, and what you want out of a career.
Is your main priority from a job to earn a lot of money? Or are you happier pursuing a passion that doesn’t pay a high salary? Think of your long term goals, and narrow down your choices.
4. Do some research - find out what recent graduates are doing, and the types of jobs they’re working at after graduating from your college.
One of the first steps of finding out what you want to do is finding out what you absolutely do NOT want to do. If you’re toggling between majors, look at the types of jobs that are common for that major. You may just find that what you thought you’d like to do isn’t really what you want after all.
5. Compromise your interests and know that you are not limited to a single major.
Do you like a liberal arts major, but the jobs are not necessarily financially attractive to you? Compromise - double major, or major in one field and minor in another. Remember, you are paying a LOT of money to go to your college - get what you want out of it!
6. Enroll as undecided - explore different subjects and find out what interests you.
Despite the common fear of having to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life at the young age of 18, this is simply not the case. You do not have to know what you want at this very moment. Enroll in school as undecided, get a feel for what you like and what you don’t like. Take different classes, join clubs, and you’ll narrow it down to what you enjoy!
7. Take advantage of internships and co-op programs offered through your college.
If and when you are able to take advantage of an internship or co-op opportunity - do it. You'll get real experience that will give you an idea of what you like in the field, and what you absolutely will not want to do. You may find out that what you thought the field is like is actually completely different from what you expected. You may even end up switching your major - which is perfectly okay!
8. If you're required to take electives, don't pick an elective just because you think it'll be an easy class. Pick something you might end up liking!
In the search for picking the right major, it'd be a good idea to take an elective that will actually strike your interest. Take an English or science elective - you may find something you're truly passionate about and find a major from there.
9. Ultimately, follow what you are passionate about.
Though the careers in your major may not have the highest salary, or be given the most praise, it is important to do what you want to do. You are in control of your own life, and only you know what you truly want out of a career.
10. Know that your major does not define you.
Yes, a major is important - it's what prepares you for the skills you must acquire to become desirable for employment. However, your major does not have to put you in a box of limitations. Some people end up working jobs that aren't even closely related to their major. It's never too late to change the direction of your life and start something new.