Choosing your undergraduate major is a big decision. Before you settle on one, consider these suggestions to help you identify the right choice for your personality, skills, and aptitudes:
- Enroll in a variety of courses in different areas to see what really engages you–even courses in subject areas that you never considered as a possible major.
- Take career assessments at your college career center and meet with a career coach afterward to discuss the results. Learning more about your patterns of skills, interests, and values can help you decide on a major.
- Meet with your academic advisor to review course descriptions and requirements for majors that interest you.
- Will you have the opportunity to do an internship as part of your program? Experiential learning is a great way to discover what you are interested in, and also to realize that an area you thought you were drawn to is not what you expected.
- Browse your college bookstore and look over the books for courses in majors you are considering. Review the table of contents. Do these topics interest you? Do you want to read these books?
- Get involved in co-curricular activities that give you a chance to explore your interests. Do you think you may be interested in political science? Run for a position in student government. Have you thought about marketing as a career? Become the social media coordinator for a student club or organization. Experiences outside of the classroom will reveal new and useful information about your interests.
- Talk to recent college graduates, co-workers, and alumni from your college to learn about their majors and career paths. Remember that college majors and careers are related, but not in the direct way that you may expect. A psychology major may go into fundraising; a business major may work for a non-profit; an English major may go into marketing. But also be thoughtful about career advice you receive; your path is your own.
- Get a job on campus. Working as a research assistant for a professor or in one of the college offices can connect you to mentors who can guide you as you explore career options.
- Get to know your faculty, especially those who teach courses that really interest you. The conversations you have with them outside of class can have a big impact on your academic and career decisions.
- Think about how you like to spend your time outside of school. What do you like to read about? What kinds of podcasts do you listen to? Who do you follow on social media? The choices you make in how you spend your time can give you clues about your interests.
- Are you considering a career that requires graduate study? Review course requirements for majors in your intended field of study to make sure that you can take the prerequisites for graduate school.
- Interested in an area but not sure you want to major in it? Consider a minor, or taking elective courses in that area.
- Most college career centers have great resources (many online) for career exploration. Read about career opportunities related to possible majors, and learn about the various paths to those fields.
- Remember that even though choosing a major is important, the majority of courses you take in college will not be in your major! Many of your college requirements will be in general education or electives, so use college as a time to explore.
After investing in this research and some of these activities, you will feel confident that you will choose a major that you are truly interested in, one that you will be successful studying, and one that will provide you with a sense of accomplishment. Yes, there are practical considerations to choosing your major, but remember, a major is only practical for you if it is matched to your interests, skills, and passions.
Are you about to begin the sometimes overwhelming process of applying to colleges or graduate schools? Let our experienced consultants provide tailor-made advice just for you. Check out Accepted’s consulting services here.
Alice Diamond was Associate Dean for Career and Community Service at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She has 35 years of experience in career and admissions advising for undergraduate and graduate students. Want Alice to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!