Preparing for college admissions, visiting universities, and then applying for college is an extensive process. Once you make it into a university of your choice, you have one additional commitment – choosing your college major.
A college major is the specific area of study you choose to specialize in. Let us reassure you that choosing a major isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem. Your choice of major will not necessarily dictate your career for the rest of your life. In fact, often college graduates find jobs that have no relation to their major in college. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average young professional switches jobs once every three years and the average person changes career fields two or three times in their lifetime.
However, beyond your college-required courses, you will spend a lot of time studying and learning about the specific subject you choose for your major. As you start to think about choosing your college major, here’s a guide to help you navigate the process:
Declaring a Major
Depending on the university you attend, you may need to declare a major prior to arriving on campus. In most cases, this decision doesn’t have to be definitive until later. Typically, during your sophomore or junior year, you will need to make a concise decision about your major.
Although you don’t have to declare right away, it is better that you understand the roadmap of classes needed for the majors that trigger your interest. If a major of interest requires a large course-load or specific requirements, such as an internship, you will want to either start exploring those courses or give yourself adequate time to “shop around” in order to avoid extending your college stay by a semester or two.
Choosing a College Major
There are 3 areas to consider as you navigate choosing a college major:
- Career choice. If you have always dreamed about a certain career that you know deep in your heart you are destined for, choosing your major will be simple. To make sure this career choice is really what you want, prior to declaring it is best to take a course or two in the relevant discipline.
- Focus on subjects you enjoy. If you love what you’re studying, chances are you will be more likely to fully engage with your classes. Choosing a major based on a subject you are passionate about will still provide transferable skills no matter what profession you choose after college.
- You have time to explore. College is for discovering your interests and broadening your horizons. If you are undeclared, that is perfectly fine. You have four semesters to explore various fields. Focus on choosing general courses that interest you. Spend time speaking with professors, advisors, and other students in those fields. When the time comes to decide on a major, you should have a good idea of the subject you want to dive deeper into.
It is perfectly normal to find yourself on one path and then discover another area interests you more. College is a time for exploring your interests and discovering new ones. Keep in mind that each major requires specific introductory pre-requisites that lead to more advanced coursework. You will find that some courses are offered in the fall but not in the spring, or vice-versa. If you change your major late in the game, you may have to take summer school classes to stay on track or push your graduation out a semester or two.
Double Majoring and Choosing a Minor
Some students find themselves equally passionate in two subjects. Opting to double major means that you are required to complete two sets of academic requirements, with twice as much coursework. Choosing a double major doesn’t allow you as much flexibility to explore courses outside of those two studies.
As another option, if you’re interested in another field of study that pairs well if your major, you may want to consider a minor. A minor is similar to a major in that is focuses on a specific area of study, except a minor does not require as many courses to complete.
College is a time to discover new opportunities, to learn about yourself, and to guide you on your path to an ideal career. Choosing a major can seem like an overwhelming and definitive decision, but this is a journey. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have all the answers from the get go. Make a goal to narrow your focus from all of the possibilities to a few areas that you would like to explore more in-depth. Your choices should be the best option for you financially, professionally and personally.