Depending on what school you go to, it may be nearing the time when you have to finally pick your major. There’s no doubt that for many collegiettes, choosing a major can be one of the most difficult parts of your college experience.
“One of the things that makes college so hard is the reality that you’re expected to know what you want to do when you’re 18-years-old,” says Seattle Pacific University senior Ingrid.
So this week, we’re giving you a little bit of extra information to help with your decision. Upperclassman collegiettes weighed in about what they wish they had known BEFORE they picked their majors – everything from the number of classes they had to take to the stereotypes that come with picking a certain discipline. So here are some things to think about before getting your study card signed:
“I wish I’d known that my major would make it difficult to study abroad and take elective classes.”
Some collegiettes come to college with a really specific idea about what they want to focus on, while others come simply because they want to learn from the overall college experience. Neither is wrong, but it’s important to think about your priorities and reasons for coming to collegebeforeyou pick your major.
An anonymous Bucknell University biology major wishes she could go back to freshman year and re-do the process of picking a major. “I wish someone had told me that I would be spending entire semesters looking at little cells in a microscope,” she says. “I have found myself taking classes purely to get the major and fill requirements. I'm insanely jealous of people who get to take classes for fun, and purely because the title of the class sounded like something they could spend a whole semester learning. The best advice I could give is, don't waste your time if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing. And if you can't find a major that interests you, design your own!”
It’s also important to think about your other priorities when it comes to the overall college experience. Do you want to study abroad? If so, check with upperclassmen who are in your desired major. While some majors can easily spend time in a foreign country, others have too many requirements for that to be possible.
Sarah, a Bucknell University senior, wishes she had known that her education major would limit her study abroad options. “Even if you're not sure of your major, start taking classes that will fulfill the requirements and work with your advisor to plan out your time at college. That way you can finish in time and be able to study abroad if you want to,” she says. “It was possible for me to study abroad, but it was really difficult and my options were limited as to where I could go since I needed to get requirements out of the way.”
So do your research before you pick a major – if you want to have enough time to study abroad and take fun classes, perhaps it would be valuable to pick a major with fewer course requirements.
“I wish I’d known that some people would look down on my major.”
Although you may love your major and the classes you are taking, it’s important to remember that other people might not have such positive feelings towards your chosen discipline. Science and engineering majors, for example, are notorious for looking down upon the “soft science” majors (like sociology, anthropology and psychology), and even older family members may have views that differ from your own regarding your chosen field of study.
Caroline, a junior at University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, loves her major. However, she doesn’t like the responses she gets when she tells people that she’s majoring in journalism. “It is beyond annoying hearing people’s responses when they ask what I'm studying,” she says. “Everyone likes to remind journalism majors that it's so hard to get a job in that field nowadays’ and did I know that print journalism is dying and other questions of the sort. Be prepared to fight for journalism’s honor if you are going to major in it!”
So although others may look down on your major, make sure that you’re dedicated enough that you can take the stereotypes in stride and look beyond them. After all, what doesn’t hurt you can only make you stronger!