Choosing Your Major: What Do You Want to Be?
What Did You Want?
One of the first questions we remember being asked when we were kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Of course, as a child, this question was thought of as highly metaphorical and even dreamlike which means many of us answered with occupations like A princess, an astronaut, a doctor, a vet, a firefighter, and even a future President. As we grew older and our childlike wonder grew more and dimmer we realized that choosing a career path for our future was going to be much more difficult than simply wishing and willing it to happen.
Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were young?
Starting College - Without a Decided Major
Getting through High school without knowing what you wanted to do for the rest of your life wasn’t such a big deal, after all, you still lived at home and all you wanted or needed to worry about was getting homework done and earning enough money to go on a date over the weekend. But now that you have started college, not knowing what you are going to major in can be daunting, scary, and even pretty nerve-wracking. As a freshman, there are a lot of majors, ideas, career choices that may be pushed on you while you are trying to decide the answer to that childhood question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, as a matter of fact about half of those starting college go into it not knowing what they would like to study.
Choosing Your Major: Tips and Thoughts
Choosing your major is a big step and making that decision could determine a lot of what you do and the kind of people you meet in the near future; it could also place you on a path that leads to your future career. So how can you choose? Here are some tips for when you are trying to decide on a major:
- Don’t pressure yourself into making a decision right away.
- Focus your attention on taking courses that interest you.
- Do a lot of job shadowing to see what some jobs are actually about.
- Take full advantage of campus counseling and advisory services in order to get structured help and advice.
- Understand that what you choose to major in does not only give you one set career path, there are many different paths to choose from that can stem from a related major.
- Explore your options based on what you like to do and what you enjoy studying.
- If you are unsure about what you want to go into and you are a high school senior, do not rely solely on counselors to guide you through the process of choosing. Get out on your own and figure it out.
Some College Statistics
Having a hard time deciding on your major? You are not alone and it is not hard to imagine why; the number of possible majors and jobs is practically endless.
“Colleges and universities reported nearly 1,500 academic programs to the Department of Education in 2010; 355 were added to the list over the previous 10 years as colleges… adapt new disciplines…” According to the New York Times.
“The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded with double majors rose 70 percent between 2001 and 2011…” According to the Education Department.
Undecided about your major? You are not alone, the exact statistics vary but according to advising.gmu.edu
"up to 50% of entering college students are undecided about their major.”
Worried about changing your major? What about changing it more than once?
“50-70% of students change their majors at least once… on average students change their major 3 or more times before they graduate.” According to advising.gmu.edu
One of the biggest tips/tricks/hints anyone can give about deciding on a major is to actually try it out. If you are interested in a particular major because of a specific job you want to go into, job shadow someone with that career so that you get a realistic sense of what it is all about. If you are really interested in an aspect of study and you have already gone down a specific path for a little while, try an internship where you can move up into some other positions within the company. Talk to others in your major about their plans; ask counselors and teachers about what they did during their college career that helped them get to where they are today. Dip your toes into the pool to see how you like it before diving in head first into a major or a career that you learn is not right for you later down the road.
Changing Your Mind
As the above statistic points out, “50-70% of students change their majors at least once.” This means it is not weird or abnormal in any way for you to be unsure about your future plans and for you to change them. You just need to be aware of the fact that changing your mind early on in your college career is much easier and less expensive than changing as you get closer to the end. Freshman year is all about experimenting, trying new things, and taking a myriad of classes so that you can decide what you would like to do.
Preparing for Jobs
Now that you are on a career path of some kind - it can really help you decide whether or not it is the right path by getting a job in that field during an off semester or even during school.
© 2014 Maddi