Is My Major Right For Me?

For months before I started college, I was sure I would be an English major. That's what I had declared in all my applications and what I told all my friends in our discussions about college. Even so, at my freshman orientation, I was frantically texting my high school teachers asking for advice on what major to declare when choosing my classes.

Suddenly, this seemed like the most monumental decision of my life, and other possibilities such as journalism, education and communications were swimming before my eyes. 

I started as an exploratory student in the Global and Social Sciences track. It seemed like a miracle that this was an option because the counselors or representatives of the university never discussed it. 

I was lucky enough to take introductory courses in several of the majors I was considering, including in English and communications, in addition to a class called “Discover Your Major.” By the end of my first semester, I had decided English was not for me and declared my major as Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communications. 

This journey seemed frustrating and stressful because I was one of the only people I knew who was not set on one major from the start. Here and there, a professor or faculty member would reassure me that I had plenty of time and that my major was not the life-altering decision that people make it out to be. 

What’s so important about choosing a major?

Universities emphasize choosing a major quickly and sticking to it to improve the four-year graduation rate and save everyone money. However, this pressure often leads to students choosing a major they are not sure about and either feeling unsatisfied at the end of four long years or changing it several times and prolonging their graduation.  

Also, students are convinced that their major determines what they will be working as for the rest of their lives. In fact, according to this Washington Post article, only 27% of college graduates were working in a job that was related to their undergraduate major. Your major does not determine the job or even the field that you’ll be working in, so why place so much importance on the decision? 

If your finances allow, take a semester to explore several options before choosing. Keep in mind that if you are not completely certain of what you want to do after college, it’s okay. Choose something you will not be tired of learning about in four years, and that you can realistically see yourself doing. 

What if I am about to graduate and regretting my choice?

I know a handful of people who changed majors with just a few credits left before graduating. If you are absolutely certain that you need a completely different degree, this is an option. However, I have learned that a degree in a related field can get you places even if it is not exactly the degree required by an employer. 

Similarly, your undergraduate major generally does not matter when it comes to graduate school. For medical school or other specific career paths, certain majors and courses may be required. However, for the majority of fields, this will not be the case. If you decide in your last year that you want a degree in another field, and you can afford it, consider getting a Master’s. It takes less time than a Bachelor’s, and it's a great opportunity to move to a new city and learn about a new industry. 

What if others do not approve of my major?

Every time I see my grandmother, she asks me, “what is it you’re studying again?” When I tell her PR and communications, she says, “one of these days you'll have to explain to me what that means.” The other day she told me honestly, “I just feel like you can do more than that.” 

It can be frustrating when your family or other loved ones do not understand or approve of what you are doing. Every family has high expectations for their kids. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer, and they are still hopeful in the back of their minds. 

In the end, the most important thing to remember is that you are the one who needs to be satisfied with your choices, not them. Keep this in mind when you want to put other people’s opinions before your own.

If you are doubting your major, remind yourself that it will not absolutely determine your future career. You probably have plenty of time to decide what you want to do with your life, and your major needs to be something that will make you happy. 

As Harry Styles said, “As long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing, no one can tell you you’re not successful.”