In high school, every subject was on the same playing field. You had to take math, English, science, and history, and all of the grades were equally important on your transcript. There wasn’t much wiggle room in what you could and couldn’t take. But in college, the rules have changed. Suddenly, you get to design your own schedule. Once you declare a major, you can focus your time on the things that interest you. But what if you’re not sure what you want to study? Choosing a major is an important decision to make. Some people go into college with a clear plan as to what they’re going to study and where they want to go with their life, but some have no idea. But don’t worry; choosing a major isn’t as scary or as difficult as it may seem sometimes. Check out HC’s tips and you’ll have a major picked in no time!
Start with your interests.
When it comes to choosing your major, you may feel lost in a sea of degrees. There are hundreds of concentrations to choose from, so the task can feel daunting. But when it comes to making a decision, the most important factor is finding a subject that you enjoy. Maybe you were a huge fan of your English class in high school, or you’ve always been great with computers. Whatever your interests are, try to incorporate them in your studies. You should want to learn about subjects in your major rather than feel like it’s always a chore. “The biggest factor should be whether or not you are intellectually curious about the subject,” says Gary Allan Miller, assistant director of career services at UNC-Chapel Hill. HC Hofstra Campus Correspondent Rachel Crocetti, who is double majoring in photography and journalism, agrees that a major is all about what draws you in. “My choice is based solely in my interests and the things that I love most,” she says. If you study something that you don’t enjoy, it’s going to be a long four years.
Don’t pick a major because you think it will help you get a job.
Don’t try and take a major if it’s something you’re not excited by. Many students choose a major because they feel it’s a practical choice or it will help them find a job, but then they end up struggling through it. Annie, a junior at the University of Chicago, decided she wanted to declare a second major in economics in addition to her political science major. Despite her constant struggles with math, she thought having a second degree in economics might be to her benefit, but she admits that she struggled with it. “I constantly felt out of my element and was slower than the rest of my classmates to understand what was being taught in class,” Annie admits. She says that because she was working so hard to keep up in economics, it affected her grades in other subjects as well. Miller suggests studying something that you want to make a career out of that you’ll actually enjoy. “If you don’t enjoy studying computer science, even if you manage to do well in the class, you’re not setting yourself up for a career; you’re just pursuing a job,” he says.
Try out a student organization or a random class.
If you’re not sure what you want to major in when you start school, don’t stress! Try out a club on campus and see if you like it—it could point you towards a major you’d like. Miller says, “If you focus on learning more about your values, interests, and personality, and then follow your curiosity, you’ll find a path that can point you toward a positive first step.” If you discover you’re a pro on the debate team, maybe political science is for you. Or, if you can’t wait for choir every week, maybe vocal performance is the direction in which you should head. You never know what you’re going to be excited about until you try it!
You could also take classes in various subjects until you find one that really piques your interest. Grace Ortelere, former HC campus correspondent for University of Pennsylvania, wasn’t sure what she wanted to study until she took her first psychology class. She says after the introductory course, she knew she wanted to be a psychology major. “Go with your gut,” she advises. If you’re curious about a subject, take the introductory course. You’ll be able to get your feet wet and see if it’s something you want to pursue.