Choosing a Major
Choosing your college major doesn’t have to be a mysterious process. If you have ever thought about what you want to do with your career and what your interests are, you already know how to choose a major — now is the time to take all of those great ideas and put them to work! Grab a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and a highlighter, then use the steps below to narrow your options down to the majors that are going to be most meaningful to you. Repeat as necessary until you’ve found the perfect major for you.
Steps to Choosing Your Major
- What do you want to be when you grow up? You have been answering this question for years, so think about the answers you have given to this question in the past. On your piece of paper, start a quick chart with your dream careers in one column and possible majors that relate to those careers in the another.
- What energizes you? When you wake up in the morning, what activities for that day motivate you to get started? These activities typically use skills that you consider to be your strengths. What topic could you talk about for hours if you met someone who shared the same interest? Topics that interest you tend to reflect your passions and core values. A major that fits your strengths, passions, and values is one that you can be fairly certain will energize you. Circle the top two or three majors on your list that fit your strengths and values.
- What do your friends say you are awesome at doing? Draw a box around careers on your list that others have suggested to you. Comments from friends can be the beginning of some great career advice. It’s also a good idea to get advice from other people who know you well, like parents, employers, coaches, and mentors. If you haven’t decided by the time you get to college, you will have the benefit of consulting with professors, career placement staff, alumni, and a whole new group of friends who have already been through the major selection process.
- What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now? The answer to this and several questions about the future can help you determine if the major you are choosing will get you to the places you want to go. Highlight the majors on your list that you can answer “yes” to for the following questions:
Will jobs related to this major be around in 10 years?
Will I enjoy doing this for years to come?
Do those who major in this find employment?
Will I be able to earn a living with this major? Will it pay?
- Take a look at your list again. Are there any majors that you circled and highlighted? Do any of these majors match up with the careers with a box around them? If so, these majors are the ones that you will most likely find fulfilling and energizing. Research more about these majors at the schools that interest you to get a feel for what it would be like to be a student in this major. Visit campus, meet with professors and current students, and sit in on classes if you can. Then come back to your list and narrow it down further if necessary.
Continue adding notes to your list until you have found the major you want to pursue.
Remember, though: You can change your mind about a major. That’s the benefit of a four-year liberal arts college! You have time to explore many new interests and dig deeper into interests you already have before declaring your final major.