How to Choose a Major

Many of us struggle to settle on dinner plans, so when it comes down to picking a college major — a decision that has shaped the courses and career paths of numerous lives — it is no wonder that some are left feeling stumped. So, if you don’t know where to start on the road to a fulfilling college experience and possible profession, consider these five questions.

  1. Where are you applying?

As you begin to weigh your options, it’s important to note that every school may not have the major you’re looking for. With that said, try not to immediately settle on a college solely because you fell in love with the campus or the institution is popular or prestigious; these are valid reasons, but shouldn’t be the primary driving force behind why you choose to enroll somewhere. If your dream school happens to offer your major of choice, that’s great! If not, you may want to reevaluate your college list.

2. How competitive is your major?

Of course, some schools are more selective than others when it comes to certain majors. Depending on where you are applying, these majors may vary. So, if your major of choice happens to be highly competitive, remember that your applications will have to be stronger; this is where solid admissions essays, great teacher recommendations, and a robust activities resume will come in handy. On the other hand, as the demand and competition for your chosen major decreases, your chances of admission may increase.

3. What’s your career path?

This is a question that many people struggle with — even after college. So, if you are unsure about what you want to do with your degree right now, don’t worry. There are tons of resources out there to lead you in the right direction. For instance, a career aptitude test is a great place to start. The YouScience aptitude test is a favorite of mine, and you can request to take it for free through Crosby Scholars. Your hobbies and interests can additionally serve as guiding lights, shaping where you’ll end up professionally. Moreover, consulting with a counselor or advisor may clear up any uncertainty you have about the future. In short, having a career goal can make a world of difference when deciding on a major.

4. Do you like your major?

Though a bit silly on the surface, answering this question early on will save you from stress and anxiety down the line. A word of advice: try to avoid choosing a major based merely on its potential to grant you a large paycheck. Of course, financial security is important, and money is a considerable driving force for most things in life, but compromising your passion for monetary gain can be detrimental to your mental, emotional, and social well-being. However, never sell yourself short and underestimate your abilities. Reaching for goals outside of your comfort zone can be very rewarding, so consider investigating majors that both interest and challenge you.

5. Do you have a backup plan?

If you lean more towards the indecisive end of the personality spectrum, I would consider weighing different options when it comes to choosing what you plan to study. For instance, attending a two-year college is a great way to save money and complete general education courses as you explore your interests. Taking a gap year is another potential path if you need more time to unpack your passions or gain work experience. Additionally, try researching institutions that offer exploratory studies programs or don’t require you to declare a major freshmen year; most four-year institutions will allow you to change your mind down the line. Declaring a minor is another option to consider for those who cannot seem to settle on one area of interest.

After answering these questions, you’re hopefully one step closer to your ideal major. If not, it’s okay! With persistence and determination, you’ll surely land on your feet.