Choosing a College Major

By Amanda Harbrecht, Social Media Intern

Too often students view their major as a little box they are forced to put themselves into. If you major in biology, then you have to be a biologist. If you major in art history, then you must want to work in an art museum. If you major in philosophy…well then, you must want to be a philosophy professor because what else could you be? In actuality there are only a few tracks in which you need a very specific major to be able work in that specific field (accounting, engineering, architecture, to name a few). This means that instead of majoring in what you think will get you the job you want, you should major in something that actually interests you. There are more questions to consider than just what job you will get after graduation.

What direction do you see you career going in?

This is the most obvious one. If you think you want to be an architect or some type of engineer then you will want to start out in one of those programs. If you think you want to go to medical school or law school often times there are class requirements to prepare you for the MCAT or LSAT, but you can also major in an area of your choosing. When considering the direction of you career, you might also think about what skills you expect to use in the workplace. If you expect to do a lot of writing and you want to hone that skill, then maybe majoring in journalism is the right path for you. If your potential field requires strong quantitative analytical skills, then a statistics or a math major will teach you many of the skills you will need. If you expect to travel and work on foreign relations, it would be helpful to major in a second language.

What type of work do you want to do during your four years?

Obviously it is important to be a well-rounded student, and chances are your university will require you to take classes in a variety of disciplines. When choosing a major though, it is important to think about the daily work that area of study will require. How would you prefer to spend your time?  If you like reading and writing, then an English or history major might be for you. If you like to solve problem sets, then maybe a math or a science major is the way to go. If you want to take that math, and use it to form strategies and predict outcomes then majoring in finance could be a good fit. This is not to suggest if you love logic and reason, then you have to be a philosophy major. Rather, these are simply factors to consider and be aware of when you choose a major. College is a lot of work, but hopefully if you choose the right major you will be studying ideas that interest you and working in a style that best suits you.

What are the requirements for this major?

When picking a major, you want to be aware of the requirements your university has. How many credits are required? Will you be able to graduate in four years? Will you have to overload your schedule? Not all majors require the same number of classes. Also, what type of classes will you have to take for the major? If none of the required classes for an economics major interest you, then that might not be the best choice. If the electives for a psychology major excite you, then that might be a great option. Certainly there are classes in every major you won’t be excited about, but overall how do you feel about the classes offered? Again these factors should not limit you in your decision, but you should be aware of them and understand what you will be required to do.

Ultimately choosing the right major is a personal decision. You might know exactly what you want to do after graduation, or you might have no idea. Both are okay. Figure out your strengths and interests. Most of all, keep in mind that your major does not have to limit you to one path. You can carve your path and be incredibly successful as long as you develop a good work ethic, the ability to work as a team, critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills during your college years.