You’re asked this question repeatedly once you graduate high school. Even if you haven’t selected a school yet or even know if you’re going to college, people will ask you anyway. It’s just like a young, married couple fresh from the honeymoon who are automatically asked about kids. You‘ll encounter countless, unprovoked conversations about your potential major. While it’s definitely something to think about, your selection of a major during freshman year will not make or break your collegiate career.
Here are several tips in choosing a major:
Don’t Rush into a major
If you’re not sure about a major yet, you can be undeclared. This allows you to take your general education courses along with other courses that may peak your interest. You can take introductory courses for some majors, however, it’s just an intro class. The introductory class will be much different from a 300 or 400-level class in the same major. Most schools encourage students to declare during their junior year. That gives time for the student to take classes from the major or even sit in on class meetings, getting a feel for the major.
Get firsthand information from actual students of the major
This will get you insight on the major from those who have experience. You’ll have many people giving opinions and their own unnecessary two cents on your interested major. While it’s appreciated, talking to someone who is a student of the program could help tremendously.
Talk with a professor or department head in your interested major
Many students choose majors without knowing what’s expected of them. You may want to study theater and find out the senior capstone project is memorizing seven monologues and writing a 25-page essay on the history of theater. That may sound ridiculous and extreme, but how would you know those aren’t the requirements? There’s no good in assuming.
Major ≠ Career
Unfortunately what you major in does not guarantee a job in that specific field. Nor does it guarantee longevity in a career you were prepared for through college. Majoring in journalism won’t guarantee an entry-level position at CBS a week after graduation. It doesn’t work like that. Can it work like that? Of course. It just doesn’t happen every day. You must be prepared to work somewhere and not use your degree. There are plenty of college graduates who don’t work in the field they studied in. Matter of fact, there are 17 million college graduates who are working in positions in which they don’t even use their degree. I’m not encouraging you to reconsider college. Just know whatever major you choose may not “match” the field you end up in.
Switching Majors is Normal
You’ve changed your mind 2 times and you’re only a sophomore. So what. It’s perfectly normal for students to change their major up to several times before settling on something. You have the ability to switch majors whenever you want. However, you do want to make sure you switch using the correct protocol. The worst thing is thinking your major is changed and it’s not. You don’t want to waste your time on extra classes.
I’ve declared many majors including psychology, music technology, and liberal arts. At times you’ll feel pressured to choose a major quickly as you’re entering college. Unless you’re absolutely sure about what you want, don’t declare your major yet. Take time and find out what you like and dislike. Even if you feel confident about your choice, be open- minded to the fact that you may end up not liking it. You might declare political science as a major then realize you have a passion for writing fiction. In that case, you’d probably want to switch to English as a major or even creative writing if it’s available. Schools are offering so many options and are expanding programs each year, so don’t limit yourself. Do exactly what you want.