It’s perfectly fine to be undecided about your major, but if you are looking to make a decision, here are some things you can do to help discern which major is best for you. Here are three key points to remember…
1. Stay open minded
Choosing a major can be a difficult process that involves some serious self-reflection. During your discernment period, it is important to explore all potential options. Try not to give yourself a label of what “type of person” you are to pick a type of major you “should be”. Unfortunately, people often share opinions of what major you “should” select. Whether it’s a parent or a friend weighing in, know that you can think for yourself on this one. No one knows you better than you!
Consider your interests. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? When are you happiest? Maybe your favorite thing is meeting new people and investing in friendships. Perhaps that could translate into studying communication or psychology. Maybe your relationships interest you because of the engaging and thought provoking conversations you have. If so, studying philosophy might be fascinating. Let’s say you love watching and playing soccer. Even though you may think your love of soccer could not turn into a career, check it out. Do your research. Maybe you could work sports marketing for a soccer team. Or possibly, your experience of playing soccer could lead to an interesting career in physical therapy or sports medicine. Follow your passion and explore how it can develop into a lifelong career.
Being open minded also means paying attention in your core curricular classes. Most schools require students to take a wide range of core courses. If you are unsure about a major, take the required core classes first. This way you don’t waste any credits and you can get a taste of several areas of study that you may not have anticipated enjoying. Perhaps political science is an option for a core requirement. That class could uncover your interests and lead to a career in law, public policy, social work, etc. Be aware of what you like to do and what classes you find interesting. This awareness can translate to an easier decision.
2. Job shadow
Shadowing someone at work is a great way to get a sneak peak into the daily lifestyle of a certain career path. Many colleges have career centers that can help you get matched with a job shadowing opportunity. You can also network in your personal relationships to set up a shadowing day. Maybe your friend’s mother is a newscaster and that career seems interesting to you. If you love what you see, it can open your mind to pursuing a career in that field. If you are not a fan, who cares! It was one day and a positive learning experience. Finding out what you do not want to pursue is just as important as finding out your passion.
3. Know that a major does not define you.
Picking your major can be stressful. There’s often an air of anxiety around making a monumental decision that shapes your college experience. However, remind yourself that this decision does not define you. It may impact the career options you have down the road, but it certainly does not control your future. Many majors apply to many things. Meet with your advisors to discuss the flexibility you have before making a decision. Be open and honest about not knowing what you want to do. They likely have good ideas and resources to help you.
Remember that changing majors is always an option but specifically early on. Don’t be afraid to transition to a new area of study if you start to feel that this major isn’t for you. Keep in mind the sooner you switch the better so that you can graduate on time!
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”