Your choice of a major in college will stand as one of the most critical choices you will make in your life. It affects your career choices for the rest of your future. However, if you don’t know what you want to study at college yet, don’t worry. As many as half of all college students start off without picking a major discipline. The beginning years of college have a built-in flexibility that give you time to really find what you want to study. Here are some tips you can use to help you determine what that is.
1. What Piques Your Interest
Studying a subject you love makes things so much easier. You want to learn about it, meaning acquiring and retaining information for tests or papers becomes a walk in the park. Choosing the wrong subject can lead to boredom, apathy, and bad grades. Take some time to do some self-assessment. Don’t just figure out what you like to study or read. Write down what you like to do and what makes you the happiest when you are doing it. Compare what you like with what you love doing, and mix in where your talents lie. Somewhere a confluence of the three will meet, and it is there where you will most likely find your major.
2. Integrity and Identity
Knowing what makes you tick or what is important to you helps you bring focus to what you do. Take the time to write down what matters in life. Then write down words that identify who you are. From there, write down things that come second nature to you or that you just love doing. Take these three sets and narrow each down to just a few. From there, look for ways to connect them; in that moment, you will see what matters to you and how it crosses over into your identity. That is where you will find a major to study.
The opening semesters of college generally contain a large amount of general education courses. These classes fill one purpose – to give you a broad experience in many subjects that helps you have more general knowledge but also helps you find what it is you love to study. Once you begin this process, take the courses you enjoy and enroll into follow-up courses to see how you like it. By doing this, you get to try on different degree programs in the equivalent of the college dressing room to see what you like and what works for you.
4. Ask for Help
Parents, teachers, mentors, friends, coworkers, and bosses all know you in some way. They also all offer perspective and experience you lack. While an outside source can’t always tell you what to do, their external view of you can help bring who you are into focus. Once you’ve done this, approach academic or career counselors to get help translating that into a program of study.
5. Know the Requirements
Once you can focus on a few majors, start looking at the degree requirements. Examine coursework, look over available syllabi, and talk to teachers in the degree program. Determine what you may need to take initially and what you will be choosing later as you progress. Does the major require a language course, but the thought of learning a language has you balking? Considering a technical program, but the idea of coding or math has you shaking in your proverbial boots? Well, these programs might not be for you.