Making MAJOR Decisions for the Undecided

As someone who can barely decide which boba drink to order in a socially appropriate amount of time, making a decision that would impact my life and career only slightly more felt like a daunting task. After going through high school, as well as my first year and a half of college with not a single insight into what I wanted to major in, nothing sounded more fulfilling than finally answering any major-related question with an actual major. It felt like any time I responded that I was undecided, I was often met with concerned looks and statements like “Really, you don’t know by now??” or my favorite, “You can always just marry rich” (thanks, grandma).

As enjoyable as it was having to constantly dodge questions pertaining to majors and potential future careers at family functions or virtually any meet-up, I wouldn’t want to change a thing. While there may be one person you know (or seemingly the whole campus) that has their future planned out to the color of the shirt they’re wearing the day after they retire and purchase a house in Florida, nothing is guaranteed. I mean, just look at the stats. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 80% of college students in the United States end up changing their majors at least once. In fact, it was found that on average, college students tend to change their majors at least three times. This goes to show that no one really has it all figured out, despite how convincing it may seem. 

In fact, I’d argue that going into college undecided gave me more of a chance to really explore the programs and opportunities my university offers, and even try out how each of my potential majors works for me. If you’re undecided, the number one thing I recommend is embracing it and not being scared to have the wackiest schedule if you want to explore different majors. However, if you think you’re ready to finally settle on one, read below for a couple of questions I kept in the back of my mind when I finally chose my major.

1- What classes do I have completed?

Look into the classes you have already taken, is there any that all go towards the same major? One important factor that helped me choose my major was having a fraction of the prerequisites done without knowing it. I was simply taking classes for breadths and if they sounded interesting to me, and by factoring in the courses I’ve completed, it helped reassure me that I would still be on track to graduate when I planned to.

2- Am I okay with taking a fifth or even longer year?

One potential major I was considering would not only require me to take classes in the summer, but also potentially make me stay another semester. While this did not align with my plan, if adding in another semester is not a problem and is necessary in order to switch or declare a major, why not? Even though it may seem easier to stick to a four-year plan you already have neatly laid out, if there is a major you know you’d be happier pursuing, ask yourself whether an extra semester is a feasible option. I’ve heard that the real world is way overrated anyway. 3- What classes did doing work feel the most doable/enjoyable?

I know, work and enjoyable should not be in the same sentence, but think back to any classes you found yourself not completely dreading the work in. I found that I actually looked forward to completing projects in a certain class compared to the dread I felt towards assignments in other ones. Enjoying the work you do outside of class can be a strong indicator that the material is of interest to you.

4- Anything you want to minor in or even double major?

Finding a major does not mean exclusively taking courses in that field. If you’re struggling to decide on a major because you have too many interests, remember that minoring is always an option. In fact, deciding on my minor led to me finally being able to pick a major because I finally narrowed down my options to just those two fields. While double majoring is also possible, it is only recommended if you have a really strong interest in an additional field.

5- What are you looking for most in a future career/lifestyle?

Is your main concern the paycheck? What type of work environment would you want? Do you want to work with people? Do you want to have consistent hours? These are only a few questions to consider, and it’s completely fine if you don’t know. Another thing I considered was what do I definitely not see myself doing. Thinking about things like if being in an office from morning to night sounds like a death sentence, or having to interact with people everyday sounds too frustrating, you can gradually rule out some majors.

Having trouble answering these questions? Don’t stress too much! These are just a few of the major points that helped to guide me in my decision-making, your considerations may be completely different. The main thing is not comparing yourself to others and taking the time to explore and learn about your likes, dislikes, and overall ambitions. Your major is not necessarily the ultimate deciding factor in your career or life, and the path you’re on right now may not even be remotely close to what you do in the future. So breathe and just know you got this!