One of the most frequently asked questions to high school students going off to college is: “What is your major?” For some, they have known what they want to major in since they were still in elementary school, but most students have a difficult time nailing down a decision about their future career. Many students might find themselves wondering if it is necessary to pick a college major when they enroll and wonder if it is acceptable to take core courses (math, English, history) until they decide. We will talk about the advantages and disadvantages to picking a college major when you first enroll in college to help you decide if you want to dive into college before you have chosen a major, or if you want to wait until you are sure you know what you want to do.
Undecided: I Can’t Pick a Major!
First, we will talk about what it means if you choose not to select a major when you enroll in college. Most colleges and universities have a plan in place for those who remain undecided for the first few semesters. During that time, you will take core classes such as required English, math, science and other related courses. Since most students do not begin taking classes pertaining to their major for a few semesters, you can get your basic college core courses out of the way. During that time, you can explore different major options that you might be interested in.
Speak with a career counselor at your college or make an appointment with an adviser in a particular college to go over some different majors, the required courses and the career options that you have after you graduate. It also may be a good idea to shadow someone in a profession you are thinking about to see if that is the right career path for you. It is important to choose your major as soon as you can in order for you to begin taking classes that will help you work towards. It is important that you do not let either negative or positive comments from your parents or friends influence you on what career path you will choose. Choose one that will best suit you and your personality. Do not choose a major just to make someone other than yourself happy.
What if I Still Can’t Decide?
If you are halfway through college and still can’t decide on a major, you may want to take some time out to work for a while. While working, you can explore career options. Talk to friends, go on informational interviews and visit relatives at work to determine what they do for a living.
Many college students are surprised to discover there are a lot of jobs that fall outside the realm of the career options most frequently touted by the media. Sure, everyone knows you could choose to be a doctor, lawyer, fireman or teacher, but have you considered becoming an actuary? A mortician? A plastic surgeon? A speech therapist? How about a literacy specialist or an insurance underwriter?
You don’t want to waste your money on an education you won’t use, but you can always pursue a general liberal arts degree, which will set you up for a career in human resources, marketing or fundraising. If you still can’t decide, but don’t want to take time off of college (statistics show it’s less likely that you will return to college to finish your degree if you quit mid-way through), you may wish to secure a liberal arts degree, just to keep your career options open.
I Have Picked a Major: Now What?
Once you have chosen a major, you can then begin taking courses that will help you work towards your degree in that area. When you pick your major, you will need to meed with an adviser so they can change your major in your files and go over which courses you will need to register for in the coming semesters. If you have previously picked a major and have now decided to switch to a different major, you will need to go through the same steps of changing your major in your college files and finding out which courses you will need to take on top of what you have already taken. Then you can finish your degree and move on to finding a job in your chosen field.