“Finding yourself,” no matter how cliché, is a significant part of starting your freshman year in college, so it makes sense many students still go in as “undecided.” Research has shown that anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of students go to college without a set major in mind. Even so, the pressure to choose mounts with each semester, and as many as 75 percent of students end up changing majors at least once before graduation. So, if you’re struggling to decide what to do with your life, you’re definitely not alone. But how do you get past this dilemma and narrow it down to a single choice?
Explore Your Options
Settling on a major before you’re even decided is one of the many problems that result in fifth-year seniors and switched majors. Rather than acquiesce to the pressure, take a variety of courses your first few semesters to see what truly inspires you.
You might believe that chemistry is your calling because you think wearing a lab coat is cool, but come to find out that you’re not as good at math as you originally thought. But you’ll never know that you’re quick on picking up Spanish unless you try it out.
Fortunately, there are many schools that set requirements for fulfilling a certain amount of credits in a broad range of subjects as an “exploratory” tactic to combat the issue of switching majors. So, if you’re unsure, check to see if your school has similar programs in place. Otherwise, wait until late-sophomore/early junior year until you make your final decision and declare; this way, you’ll get plenty of exposure to what multiple programs have to offer and some major credits to boot.
Seek Out Your Adviser
Although it seems like a decision that can be made on your own, there’s a good reason that academic advisers and college counselors are available in the first place. Not only can advisers guide you towards your academic passion, but they can tailor your schedule to your own personal preferences because they realize that not every course will appeal to the same students across the board. It’s best to seek out your adviser's services as soon as possible to at least establish a rapport with them and gain some initial counsel on your path to graduation, even if you’re standing at a crossroads in terms of your major. Student Coaching Services is one source of expert career and life advisers.
Think about Long-Term Career Goals
Contrary to popular belief, your desired career need not make your major, but your major certainly has an impact on what options are available to you. In other words, don’t feel limited to your major because of your career goals, for there are many careers for which a variety of undergrad degrees are appropriate.
For instance, if you grew up watching Law & Order and knew you always wanted to become an attorney, you can safely pursue that dream if you majored in English, History, Political Science, or even Philosophy. Or, on the flip side, if you know that you’re gifted with numbers, you can narrow down your options to majors like Math, Chemistry, Engineering, or Computer Science.
We all know that college is expensive – some more than others – so deciding on which major will help you eliminate that debt as quickly as possible isn’t a terrible idea. Just be wary of making this decision solely on the basis of salary; you don’t want to end up with a 1.5 GPA in an ill-suited subject or end up in a career that you dread waking up for every morning. On the other hand, you also don’t want to end up getting paid nickels and dimes when your skills deserve higher compensation. So, weigh the pros and cons carefully, and decide on a major that will both lead to something fulfilling but will also pay the bills.
College is stressful enough without feeling like you’re floating along with no direction in sight. But with a little bit of strategizing and use of the resources at your disposal, the answer will practically fall into your lap.
Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for myKlovr.