Choosing a major may seem like the most important decision made upon entering the doors of a university, but college officials say it is nothing to stress about. US News’ Brian Burnsed, in his article, “5 Ways to Pick the Right College Major,” outlines how students can avoid the pressure and explore their interests in order to find out where they fit best.
1. “Wait until college”: Students are worried now, more than ever, about the consequences of their course of study due to increased unemployment and scarcity of job opportunities that require only an undergraduate degree. Christine Richardson, director of Career Services at Cazenovia College, advises students to “give themselves ample time to try a diverse set of classes in their first year or two of school before deciding what field of study most appeals to them.”
2. “But don’t wait too long”: Spending semester after semester testing out various courses could ultimately work against students seeking to obtain a degree. College is expensive, and while time is well spent in actively trying to discover your perfect course of study, time also should not be wasted.
3. “Curiosity won’t kill you”: Asking questions to people who are experts in their field can only contribute to the discovery of your niche. “Speak with officials in the career services offices and the departments themselves to learn as much as you can about the major before you commit,” said Andy Chan, vice president of Career Development at Wake Forest University.
4. “Make sure it’s your passion”: Following a path that connects with your natural skills and abilities can ultimately give you a much more satisfying and rewarding career. “Students who don’t follow their hearts by delving into subjects they’re most passionate about will ultimately hurt their chances of a successful—and satisfying—career in the long term,” said Burnsed.
5. “Be aware of the exceptions to these rules”: Applying for medical school or careers in other fields that “demand workers possess a specific set of skills, often warrant jumping into the field of study immediately and carefully planning your college curriculum from Day One,” said Burnsed.
George Tuihalangingie, a senior in accounting from California, had to reconnect with his love for math before settling on a major. “I was doing engineering, but this school doesn’t have an engineering program. I really like math so I chose accounting,” he said.
Students who have a vision for what they want to do after graduating may have an easier time choosing a major. “I want to become a physical therapist for athletes so EXS was the closest major here to my plans after graduation,” said Kathy Imangazi, a senior majoring in EXS from Texas.
Students offered their advice on how to choose a major and follow their passions. Carla Martinez, a junior in elementary education, said, “I chose my major because I used to work at a pediatric dental office, so I was around little kids all the time and I loved it. Some people choose their majors because they think it will help them get a better job or more money, but I feel like you’ll hate your life if you do that.”