Undecided? Here's How to Choose Your Major
Last updated November 29, 2023
A college major is an academic area you wish to focus your learning around. Declaring a major helps you narrow down the classes you need to graduate with the most up-to-date knowledge in that given area. Many careers require a specific major to be considered a qualified employee. However, in some cases your college major doesn’t necessarily determine what career you will ultimately have, but it will prepare you for certain career paths you may want to take.
Choosing a college major can be overwhelming; especially, if you are unsure of your career plans. It’s a good idea to spend some time exploring your options so you make the best decision for you. Here’s how to decide on a major!
Weigh your options
There are so many different areas of study to explore in college. College opens doors to subjects you never had in high school, so you may not even know if a particular area of study even interests you until you try it. Try taking general education requirement courses in a subject you’re not familiar with but may be interested in. We recommend using your first year in college as your time to explore before you have to declare your major, which typically has to be done by the end of your sophomore year. Keep in mind that there might be particular majors that require a sequence of classes during a specific year, so make sure you chat with your academic advisor to ensure you are on the right track.
Consider possible career paths
You might already have a good idea of a career path you want to pursue. Career research and exploration is a great way to decide on a college major because you will learn about careers that are related to each other that you may not have known about before your research. It is a good idea to participate in a job shadow or an informational interview to give you a better idea of what a specific career or job entails.
Particular career paths will require you to major in something specific. For example, if you want to be a computer engineer, pursuing a degree in Art History may not be beneficial. There are, however, some careers that will offer you a bit more flexibility. If you want to be a lawyer, for instance, you will ultimately need to go to law school, so your undergraduate major doesn’t necessarily have too much of an impact. If making money is your top priority, explore careers that are high in pay and see what types of degrees are required to get there! It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do just yet. Exploring majors and classes can help you determine this a little more!
Pay attention to your strengths
Another way to select a major is to access your talents. What are you good at? You may not know what your strengths are yet, but once you start taking new classes and exploring majors that interest you, you’ll get a better idea. If you are doing well in a subject, even if you never tried it before, it may be time to dig deeper into that study - you just might like it.
Meet with professors in departments of interest
As you use this time to explore different subjects, you will also meet a lot of new professors. Once you realize what potential majors you want to dive into, utilize office hours to meet with professors from those departments. Professors are great resources for you to get insight into majors that interest you and the types of careers people can enter with a degree in that major. They can also help guide you toward the major that makes the most sense to you.
Narrow your choices
You know yourself better than anyone else! If there’s a subject in school you don’t like, don’t pick it as a major. Create a list of classes or clubs you enjoy and a list of the ones you don’t. Once you’ve eliminated the subjects you don’t like, you’ll have a more narrow focus on areas to explore.
To narrow your choices even further, do some research on the subjects you are interested in. What kinds of careers support those interests? What does the pay look like? And, What is the demand for this career? College will be a more enriching experience if you pick a major that sparks your interest. If you are having trouble narrowing down your choices, chat with your academic advisor! They are there to help you with your academic planning. They can provide information on major requirements and career paths that can help you make the best decision.
Remember: You can change your major!
Changing your major is normal! Many students get to college and realize what they selected when they applied a year ago is not what they expected or what they want to do anymore. It’s a good idea to meet with your academic advisor to review your options. Your college will have a process you can follow to change your major.
If you are thinking of changing, start the process as soon as possible! It’s important to give yourself enough time to complete the major in the timeframe you’ve set for yourself to attend college. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to take a ton of extra classes; this option takes up your time and money.
Choosing a major doesn’t have to be a decision you make alone! Chat with your friends, family, advisors, or us! Have questions about deciding your major? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with an advisor! On your phone? Click here to text!