Are you still undecided and more than half way through your first semester of college? You’re not alone! It is OKAY to be unsure during the first part of your college career. Many students end up changing their majors several times. Many students even graduate with a completely different degree than when they started. I personally have switched my major and career path. It is not something to be ashamed of and don’t worry too much!
Even though you shouldn’t stress too much about being undecided in the beginning of your college career, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about it at all. College is a lifestyle. A lot of college has to deal with the experiences, but it is important to remember that ultimately, you are here because of your academics. That being said, make sure you are paying attention to which classes you are taking.
During the first two years of school you can usually get away with taking mostly gen eds/liberal studies. Take advantage of these classes! Take things that you don’t know anything about or just take a random class that seems interesting. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and learn something new. This is your time to experiment and this is the way to do it! Taking introductory level classes can really help you decide if you’re truly interested in a major.
Another way to help you decide what major to declare is practice. This could be volunteer work, internships, or even paid positions. Go around and look for places you could see yourself working. Even if it is an entry level position somewhere it could help you get your foot in the door, get a good reference, AND it could guide you in the right direction. Trying out a new class, job, or club can be great! It could also be TERRIBLE! If you really don’t like something, remember that. There is always good to be learned from every experience. Keep that in mind as you go through your search. Sometimes deciding what you don’t want to do is just as important.
There is help! You are not out there alone! Talk to your advisors, counselors, mentors, family, friends, etc… People are always willing to give their opinions, so don’t be afraid to ask! We are included in that group. The iRAs are here to answer any personal questions you may have about majors so go ahead and test out our knowledge. There are also many online quizzes to help lead you in the right direction. You may not want to take all of these literally, but it could be another tool to help steer you in the right direction.
In the end, make a list. Write down what you like to do, who you like to be around, what type of settings you like to be in and go from there. Once you have a list, try to make some comparisons to different career fields. Pros and cons lists can be extremely beneficial as well. Whatever you do, do not resort to a coin flip. College costs you (or someone else) a lot of money. Make sure you are treating it as an investment for your future and not just playtime. Take time to truly think about what you want to do and make sure YOU are HAPPY with that decision.
Great article! As a university professor and advisor, I can tell you that it is completely normal for students to have no idea what they really want to do when they start college (in fact, I’m a little worried if they appear too focused and sure of their career path after just starting school).
As students start to narrow the field of careers that they find interesting, they should start to think about the long-run career prospects of those degrees. I’ve observed far too many young people jump into majors without much thought about employment prospects or earnings after school. While I would never advocate that someone pursue a career for strictly monetary reasons, I would suggest that they narrow their interests to a small number of possible degrees, and THEN choose one that makes long-term economic sense. Fortunately, there are tools out there to help students do that:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH):
2. Department of Labor’s O*Net database:
Both of these resources are free, but quite large and challenging to navigate.
Today’s college bound students, for better or worse, are glued to their smartphones, so if you are looking for an easy to use app that contains much of the same information as the previously mentioned government websites, I recommend Majors: