Do I Really Want to Major In…? | How to Choose the Perfect Major

Marie-Antonette Bone

Choosing a major can be an exciting yet intimidating process. You might feel as if you have to know exactly what you want to study before you start college, but it’s actually fine—and common!—if you don’t. As a recent college graduate, I tend to look back at my college career and how much I’ve grown. There was a time during college in which I didn’t really know what my passions were and, as a result, I wasn’t sure of which major to choose. If you feel this way, let me tell you from my personal experiences that it’s okay to not know yet. Important decisions like this take time, and everyone discovers their calling at different periods of their life. To give you a headstart, here are a few things I did to help me decide one the perfect major.

Enroll into College as Undeclared

My first goal was to get into a college that I knew would be beneficial to any of the career options I was interested in. In my case, those two options were aerospace engineering and advertising—two completely different areas of study! I researched colleges that had programs for both majors and narrowed down my options from there.

While I had two specific areas of study in mind, however, you might not have the slightest idea. That’s okay too, of course. A strategy that may help you is to conduct research on the schools you’re considering to see how flexible and varied their degree programs are. The more diverse and flexible the programs, the easier it will be to explore your options once you are enrolled.

More Guides for Conducting Your College Search

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Many students are afraid to enter undeclared, but there are many benefits to it. My college provided a set amount of hours of free tutoring available for undeclared students as well as its own advising office. In addition, you have more control of which courses you want to take. If you are in a major you’re not confident about, you may regret scheduling courses within a strict degree plan if you end up switching majors. Utilize the freedom you have and take courses related to the topics you’re interested in.

Register for Classes in Your Major of Interest

During my freshman year in college, I decided to take half of my classes in advertising and the other half in engineering. I focused mainly on taking the prerequisite classes, which are designed to measure your aptitude for a subject and often require a certain grade to move on to the upper-level classes. These prerequisites can be useful to gauge your interest and skill level in certain subjects. If you succeed in and enjoy a prerequisite class, then you can feel more confident in choosing that area of study. Based on my experience, I found myself more strongly interested in advertising than engineering and was able to declare my major.

If you are still unsure about which major to choose, you may have the option to apply to and declare all your potential majors, after which you can drop or stick to whatever you choose. Maybe you’ll realize that you have a strong passion for multiple areas of study. In that case, you can choose to double major or add on one topic as a minor!

Look Back at Classes You Enjoyed In High School

Were there any classes that stood out to you? Any extracurriculars you loved? These experiences may hint to you where your passions lie. I loved the graphic design & illustration courses I took in high school, which ended up leading me to pursue advertising.

I was interested in engineering because I thought I had a passion for math, but I soon realized that there is a difference between being good at something and having a passion for it. Make sure you can see yourself growing your strengths and enjoying what you’re learning, because that is how you will thrive.

Talk Frequently with Your Advisor

Whenever I was unsure of what to do or what classes to take, the first person I turned to was my advisor. I recommend speaking to your advisor at least at the beginning and end of each semester. These meetings can help you track whether you’re eligible to transfer disciplines within your school, get advice on which courses you should take, or answer any questions or concerns you may have about your decision. Your advisor is there to help you make the most out of your college career and keep you on the path to success, so don’t hesitate to contact them.

Research the Career Possibilities for the Major

What typical job positions do graduates from that major pursue? What is the purpose and daily tasks such positions hold? These answers may help you determine how passionate you are about your fields of interest.

Do you see yourself enjoying the day-to-day life in a certain career? Is the salary what you desire? What can you bring to the table once you’re an employee? Of course, you may feel hesitant with your answers at first because you’re still learning about the major, but keep these questions in mind as you decide. You may find that these questions can open or close doors to majors you’ve considered.

Talk to Other Students

I can say with certainty that you’re definitely not alone. There are other students who have gone through what you’re experiencing. Try talking to them as well as other students who are juggling their options. My freshman year, I spoke both to students in the advertising and engineering majors as well as to students trying to transfer internally into them. These conversations may help you find a fresh perspective as well as reassurance and support. The more that I spoke to people, the more I felt that I had a better grasp of what the degrees would entail and the opportunities they would provide.

Decide How the Major Aligns with You

Does the field relate to your core beliefs? If you’re an activist who wants to protect the environment, you’re most likely not going to want to work for an oil and gas company. The more that you can personally relate to a major in terms of passion, interest, skills, and values, the more you will find yourself enjoying your career. I realized that I wanted to pursue the field of advertising and marketing when I realized that I enjoyed helping others. Bringing awareness to products or companies that can help other people with their lives is the main factor that made me decide to choose advertising. If I hadn’t realized that, I may not even be here to write this article you’re reading today!

Figure Out What YOU Want

Ultimately, you’re the person who knows you the best. Take everyone’s advice into consideration, but don’t let anyone control your final decision. Your family and friends want what they believe is best for you, but it’s important that you make the decision that you know is right for your future.

Not knowing what your major will be can give you an uneasy feeling, but it’s a part of life not to know what every day in the future will be like. In a sense, that can even make things more exciting. Take it one step at a time, and you will find yourself naturally going towards the right path. Good luck!