Ask the Right Questions to Choose a Major That Connects to Your Goals
Selecting a college to enroll in is one of the most important decisions students have to make, but it’s not the only major academic choice most will face. Choosing a major is an important milestone, and it's not uncommon for some students to enter college as "undecided" majors. Although policies vary by institution, most students will need to declare a major by sophomore year if they haven't already.
For some students, choosing a concentration may be easy; many arrive on campus with defined passions that have been cultivated throughout high school. Others may discover a new interest during college and decide to pursue something different from what they focused on previously. Either way, students should reflect on their interests carefully before declaring a college major. Here are five key questions for current college students to ask before choosing a major.
What am I most interested in?
Most academic majors require a considerable amount of coursework in the field, so it’s important to choose a major you are genuinely passionate about. In order to gauge what interests you most, reflect on high school and college courses you particularly enjoyed and look for similarities among these favorite classes. Also, consider particular assignments you gravitate towards; a student with a preference for essay writing may wish to consider different majors than someone who loves research projects. The types of extracurricular activities you enjoy may also shed some light onto what kinds of academic concentrations may interest you.
What kind of academic requirements are needed for this major?
Many majors require a specific number of courses in one or more fields, as well as a culminating project such as a thesis paper or oral presentation. Before declaring what you will be studying, take the time to review any associated course requirements and/or general education needs. If you are unclear on the courses needed to graduate with a specific major, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Schedule a meeting with an academic advisor to review how the classes you have already taken will work towards your prospective major and what additional courses you will need to take in order to graduate.
What are my future academic and professional goals?
Give yourself time to reflect on your long-term aspirations; where do you wish to be in 5 years? What about 10? Many students may be unsure about the exact profession they wish to pursue, but it is likely you have some idea of what kind of work you hope to be doing. Consider how majoring in a specific field relates to your bigger goals and the ways in which you will be able to utilize this degree in the future.
What kinds of career options are associated with this major?
Once you have brainstormed some of your future goals, consider how your aspirations align with the career paths associated with a prospective major. Most colleges have career services centers dedicated to helping students forge their professional paths and connect with alumni. Review what kind of professions alumni from your prospective major obtain and how these careers align with your own goals and ambitions.
How can I find out more about studying this major?
Declaring a major is an important decision, so strive to do as much research as possible first. After reading about the program you are considering, reach out to upperclassmen and professors in the field to learn more. In addition to first-hand information, attend information sessions or events that relate to your prospective major to gain even more insight before making your decision.
Choosing your academic concentration is an exciting opportunity to deepen your studies, particularly if the school you are enrolled in is a best-fit for you. If you are currently working on identifying your own best-fit schools, our team of expert college admissions counselor can help you pinpoint options and create a balanced college list.