It’s becoming more and more common for high school students to apply to college as “undecided”. This isn’t a bad thing. How can we expect high school graduates to pick what they want to do for the rest of their lives when only a few months ago we were scolding them for chewing gum in class?
Once we get accepted into a university, we’re presented with a plethora of opportunities and courses. It’s actually pretty amazing how there are so many paths to choose from rather than being limited to a select few. We are encouraged to explore, experiment and experience. Once we find out what our true passions are, we can finally choose a major (and a minor). But what if during our sophomore year we take a peek at our roommate’s chemistry textbook and suddenly we aren’t so sure psychology is the best major for us? That’s okay. Actually, it’s common to change majors throughout your 4 years at college. If you’re stressed out about making the decision, or just need some extra help, here are some tips.
1. Look at ALL of your options:
Some students think there’s only a dozen majors to choose from. Accounting, psychology, business, engineering, English, communications, etc. Sure, those may be the common ones but there are plenty of other areas of study. If none of the majors I mentioned above resonate with you, look at your school’s website to see what else they offer or speak to an advisor. You don’t know what’s out there until you make the initiative to look.
2. Don’t compare your major to your friends’:
College is about becoming an individual. A leader. A responsible adult. Scary stuff, I know. You may be a medieval literature major and your best friend might be biomedical engineering major. That doesn’t mean anything other than you excel in a different medium than he/she does. We all have different strengths. Next time someone tries to make you feel bad about your major, remind them that you’re kicking butt and doing what you love. No one’s major is “better” or “worse” as long as they’re working hard and doing what they enjoy.
3. Don’t be afraid of change:
Our minds are constantly changing and evolving. One day we’re in love with the person who sits in front of us in our communications class, the next we want to pour our iced coffee all over them. One day we are so sure of our future, the next we are crying and calling our parents for moral support. It happens. Don’t be embarrassed. If you’re not content with the degree you’re pursuing, change it. Talk to an advisor. Talk to your professors. Heck, talk to anyone who has experience dealing with the ever-changing minds of young adults. You can gain a lot more than just some extra notes by going to office hours.
4. Choose a major that matches your plan:
So your dream is to be an architect. Neat. You also like theatre. Me too! Common sense would lead you to pick a major that would benefit you, the aspiring Frank Lloyd Wright. Although being a theatre arts major would get your creative juices flowing, it would probably be more wise to save that for your minor. You can’t expect to excel in an industry if you don’t have even the slightest amount of formal training and expertise. Remember that when outlining your plans.
5. Pick the major that makes you excited for the future:
If going to classes required for your major makes your stomach turn, maybe you should reconsider. Now, don’t misconstrue my words. I’m not saying that fulfilling your major shouldn’t be challenging, I’m just saying it should also be rewarding. Studying for hours to pass an exam should make you cry tears of joy, not pain. You should be so proud of yourself and motivated to get that degree, that you feel in your gut that you’ve picked the right course of study. If your major isn’t meeting your expectations or making you happy, it’s not the major for you.
Isn’t it crazy how our major defines us in college? When we’re asked to introduce ourselves, our narrative always starts with “Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a ____ major.” We obviously value our area of study, so I think we should give it more attention.
To those of you who still need to pick a major, don’t be afraid to ask for some help and good luck!
Diane Cardoso is a writer who enjoys pug puppies and long walks through New York City. If she’s not working on a screenplay, you can find her at the August Wilson Theatre watching her favorite Broadway show.