Have you spent hours sifting through college websites, touring campuses (both in person and virtually), and deciding where to apply for college? Have you thought about what you want to study before choosing a college? As you weigh the pros and cons of every college or university you consider, think about which institution would be the best fit for you.
So what will you major in? Don’t panic! This is your time to test the waters. There are no wrong decisions. Some students know what they want to study and while others must try to figure out what career track fits. Many undergrads change their majors during college, and even more graduates change careers throughout their professional lives.
Here are some tips to help you sort through the major selection process.
Take Your Time to Explore.
Try new courses you never had the opportunity to take in high school. Talk with professors about what you can do with a major in that specific course area. Enjoy the variety of options before you make a decision. Who knows, maybe you will invent your own major!
Don’t Judge a Course Too Quickly.
Just like the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” give a class a chance. You may end up loving the subject and course content.
Consider Your Current Interests and Hobbies.
My guess is you probably already know what you like to do with your time. There is a major related to your interests.
What Do You Value?
When you graduate do you want a job that has security, offers the chance to make a lot of money, or feeds your creativity and personal growth? Do you thrive on pressure and deadlines or would you prefer a low pressure experience? What type of work environment would make you the happiest – working outdoors or inside? Would like to help people and work in a hospital or school? Would you find it exciting to fly the friendly skies and see the world? How much money do you need to live after graduation? Are you an independent worker or would you rather be a member of a team? Would you rather work with people or things? Are you seeking stability, or is adventure necessary? Sort through your values.
Read the Course Catalogs and Syllabi.
Though the course catalog might not be the most exciting material to read, you can gain a glimmer of what the course will cover and what the class requirements will be.
Talk to Your Advisor
You will be assigned an advisor when you start college. These individuals can be very helpful in answering questions about various majors. They are experts in their own discipline. Your advisor can offer you suggestions based on your interests and academic strengths. These professionals know what it takes to succeed in certain subjects. Let them help you by offering their insights.
Ask an Upperclassman!
Upperclassmen have been where you are. They had to make difficult decisions about their major as well. Many are willing to answer your questions and offer advice about the process. These students will tell you the truth about what it will take to excel from their perspective.
Network with Professionals in the Market
Set an appointments to conduct an informational interview with professionals in your field of interest. Ask if you can job shadow for a day to see what the job entails. Investigate the environment, the schedule, and the responsibilities. Most professionals will answer questions about their educational degrees, how he or she got a start in his or her field of study, and offer tips about paths you may need take to reach your goal.
You Can Major in More Than One Subject.
Yes, this is true! Many schools will allow you to double major. Some allow you to develop a major or choose a major and minor combination. Talk with your advisor and the chairpersons of the departments to see if this is possible. Your major will not necessarily determine your career. Follow your passions!
CO-OP Programs Grow in Popularity Along with Internships.
Cooperative education or internships are a great way to test drive a career and major. Virginia Tech notes their Career Service Cooperative Education/Internship Program is an undergraduate academic program which incorporates real world work experience and learning into the student’s college academic experience. The program is a partnership among the undergraduate student, the employer and the college with the program. Co-ops and internships give students educationally-related work and learning experience that integrates theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skill development on the job, and contributes to the development of personal and professional maturity and ethics. Co-ops and internships give employers the opportunity to assist in the student’s development, supplement their workforce with emerging talent, and enhance their long-range recruiting efforts by evaluating students’ potential for employment at graduation.