The College Students’ Guide to Choosing a Major

The College Students’ Guide to Choosing a Major


Jul 26, 2019

Blog Academic Institutions The College Students’ Guide to Choosing a Major

Choosing a major can be a tough decision, and many students are undecided about what they want to study. In fact, statistics show that one-third of students change their major at least once during their time in school.

When choosing a major, it’s important to consider your own priorities, goals and what you want to make out of your college experience. It’s also important to remember that your choice of will not lock you into a specific career path for the rest of your life!

It’s just as important to know what you don’t want to major in as what you want to major in. If you’re unsure which major interests you, don’t worry. Today’s blog will provide you with strategies and steps on how to pick one that’s right for you.

What Interests you?

The first step to choosing the right major for you is figuring out what you’re passionate about. If you dislike what you’re studying, your academic experience will not be enjoyable, and you will not be as motivated to work hard.

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Reflect on past jobs, internships or volunteering.
  • Reflect on subjects you have previously studied.
  • Think about films, books or articles that have inspired you.
  • Look at Princeton Review to help browse different majors and learn more about them.

If your interest is in a field of study where you’re worried about graduate school or what the job market holds in that industry, do not dismiss it and continue to explore it. Don’t be discouraged by those who pass judgements on majors like philosophy, political science or psychology and deem it as “unmarketable.” In reality, those majors prepare students for the work world with professional writing, research and critical thinking skills that employers value.

Explore Different Classes

Your first few semesters at school are the perfect time to try new classes that you would have never thought of taking in high school—give yourself a chance to broaden your horizons. You will never know where your interests lie if you don’t challenge yourself to try a new class.

  • Sign up for introductory courses—these types of classes will help determine if you’re interested in the major field.
  • Search your school’s course catalog thoroughly—look at the course descriptions and the syllabus of classes that interest you.
  • During your first year at school, encourage yourself to take at least one class outside of your comfort zone each semester—you might even find that this subject is your future calling.

Seek out Help

After you have conducted research on classes in your college’s course catalog, contact professors, academic advisors or students who have taken your desired courses.

  • The course catalog should provide the names of professors who teach specific courses that you might want to take. Email them to schedule a meeting so they can provide you with specific information about the class. Doing this will not only demonstrate your interest in the subject to the professor, but also that you’re professional and taking initiative.
  • If you’re struggling to find courses that interest you, schedule a meeting with your academic advisor—they will be happy to guide your interests and help you pick classes.
  • Ask professors or academic advisor if they can refer you to a student who has taken the classes or major field of study you’re considering.
  • You could also post in your school’s Facebook or other social media platform group to get advice from other students who took those courses.

Double-Check Degree Requirements

It’s totally normal to change your major field of study throughout your time at school, but make sure that you’re up to date on the degree and class requirements for your desired major. You will want to ensure that you will be able to complete all of your requirements to graduate on time.

  • Review the class and degree requirements for all majors that interest you as early as possible so that you’re aware of them, should you ever want to declare a new major.
  • Keep track of those requirements by creating a spreadsheet of all the classes you have taken for your major and what classes you still need to take.
  • If you’re concerned about meeting your requirements, schedule a meeting with a professor or academic advisor.

Considering a Minor or Double Major?

If a particular field of study does not fully satisfy you, if you have more space in your schedule or if you have a wide range of interests, you may consider adding a minor or another major entirely.

Not sure whether you should declare another major or just a minor? Here’s a rule of thumb:

If another subject interests you aside from your primary major, but you do not have a lot of time to meet requirements, then consider choosing a minor. If you want to gain in-depth knowledge about a secondary area of study and if your schedule allows, then a double major might be the right choice for you.

  • Meet with an academic advisor or professor to ensure that you will be able to meet all of the requirements for both your major and minor in time to graduate.
  • Ask your advisor how long it will to complete these requirements and map out what your schedule will look like.

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    Daniella Pascucci

    Written By Daniella Pascucci

    Daniella is our Academic Insights Strategist and a current senior at Bates College. She writes about challenges facing college students and tangible ways students can thrive in their academic and professional lives.

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