Steps to Taking the ‘Major’ Decision

A guide for college students; particularly freshman's, in choosing their major.

Welcome to the next 4 to 5 years of your life. You might feel excited, scared, or confused. You will probably continue to feel this way for the rest of your college life, but that’s okay. Never let these emotions get the best of you. A lot of freshman’s start college completely undecided as to what their major is. That’s completely okay.  Follow your desires and let the path take you wherever it takes you. As long as your happy, then you know your on the right track. Read this article to help yourself get on that ‘right’ track.

1. Write down a list of your interests, goals, dreams, or anything you like

I urge you to do this in your senior year of high school. Just take a notebook and list down everything that makes you happy. If you like nature, then write it down. If you like music, write it down. It can be anything from your day to day life that pleases you, such as walking to school, making new friends, doing presentations. Anything works! I also encourage you to show that list to someone else; possibly your best friend, the teacher that knows you best, or even a close family member so that they can help you out too. It’s okay if you haven’t done this in high school, you can start now. Odd’s are, what you think of and write down will be partially based on your high school experiences anyway.

2. Consider your favorite classes in high school

Try to find out what your favorite high school classes are because you probably have more than one. Add them to the list of things you love and try to see if you can make any connections. For instance, let’s say you like History, English, and Biology. At first glance, you might think that there is no connection between the three. While in fact, if you like to write, you like nature, and have general knowledge about the world around you; maybe consider environmental journalism?

3. Job prospects

By now, you probably have a few majors listed aside and can somehow tell what you want. Before actually dreaming of the day you finally declare your major, consider all the job prospects in this field. Your decision shouldn’t be based solely on whether the field is hiring with great salaries or solely on passion. It needs to be a mix of both. Consider that if you chose a certain degree, these will be the jobs available to you. If you don’t like them at all, then this may be a clear sign that this is not the major for you either. At the same time, don’t choose your degree based on only passion because you may not find any jobs in that field all together. You need to somehow secure a future that you would actually enjoy living.

4. Take introductory classes

Most colleges offer introductory classes to all majors; introduction to psychology, introduction to political science, introduction to engineering, so on and so forth. Usually, these classes are also counted as electives and are listed in the core curriculum. Generally speaking, most of us aren’t really fond of the core curriculum. Hence, take advantage of the introductory classes it offers. That way you would be finishing the core requirements and narrowing down to your desired area of study. Essentially, if you take introduction to biology and you absolutely hate your life after the first lecture; drop the class without hesitation. It’s never worth wasting your energy on something you don’t like, unless you’re dropping the course for trivial reasons, such as not liking the professor or receiving a bad grade. These are not supposed to be reasons that decide you’re major or future at all! In fact, this takes me to my next point.

5. Avoid the supposed ‘easy route’

Don’t major in something because you think it will be easy. That is a ridiculously stupid decision that will land you a lot of F’s and no jobs. Also keep in mind that there is no ‘easy route’ in any area of study. It can either be a route you like or a route you don’t like. Steer clear of choosing something you think is ‘easy’ because odds are, it’s not easy. Some people major in chemical engineering and then decide to minor in theater because it’s ‘easy’ and can help them ‘clear their mind’. That is not true at all. Decide your majors, minors, electives, and all courses in general, based on what interests you, not what sounds ‘easy’. (or in our case at AUC, join classes based on what is available on banner. Hopefully, you’ll find something tolerable)

6. Don’t choose based on your professors

The easy-A professor who doesn’t take attendance, cancels the most classes, and is referred to as the ‘0 workload guy’, is not the professor you need. It may be the professor we all dream of, but it is definitely not going to benefit you. I took introduction to political science with a pretty tough professor and I absolutely hated it. At first, I was sure I would get a C. I ended up with an A- because I followed up with my professor, did my assignments on time, went to office hours, and so on. These are all things you can do if you feel like you have a tough professor. Keep in mind that tough professors notice improvement, hard work, and can differentiate between good and bad students. These are also the kind of professors you would want to score a good recommendation letter from. Their class is always relatively worth it in the end.

7. Join clubs/ extra-curricular activities

AUC offers a wide range of student clubs that are open for everyone to join. Don’t waste any time and just start right from freshman year because you never know what you might like. Maybe if you join The Theater and Film club, you would decide to study theater. Even if you’re in your senior year, it’s still never too late to try any of clubs because you never know what qualities and skills you may gain. You need not like all the clubs you join, but that’s okay, because any experience is an experience. Don’t use, ‘ I don’t have time’, as an excuse to avoid clubs; make time. In fact, joining clubs teaches you time management skills.

8. Job Shadowing

Visit the career center and speak to any of the advisers that can help you find someone in your field of study to give you advice. This can be one perfect way to finding out if this is your desired job. Don’t be shocked if you don’t find the job appealing. Let’s be honest, a lot of us don’t like basic 9-5 jobs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them. Try it 5 or 6 times even if you didn’t like it the first time. Odds are, the first time will be the worst time anyway.

9. Don’t let the first internship scare you

Internships are a good way to get to know your area of study after you are actually in the major itself. Except, you might think that you’ve come all this way to get to an internship that you may not even like at all. Do not rethink your decision now. Just because the internship is not fantastic does not mean that you have failed at picking a major. It just means you’re an intern like every other intern. Work hard. It takes some time and a few internships to actually get used to ‘work’. The shift from college to work is not an easy one, nor is it a fun one, but don’t let internships scare you. They are only here to prepare you for that shift. Most of us don’t want that shift to happen, but we need to know that it eventually will, and we need to be ready for it.