Explore Your Interests to Identify Your College Course of Study
When it comes to the college admissions process, the first question students are often asked is “what do you plan to study?” Choosing best-fit schools to apply to is stressful enough without factoring in that students also have to make hard decisions about what they want to major in while still in high school.
It is important for students to thoroughly research and ask the right questions before deciding on a major and, subsequently, the schools that have their best-fit academic programs. Keep reading for some important inquiries you should ask before choosing your desired field of study!
Do I have to choose a major now?
It’s true that many colleges do not require students to declare a major until sometime during their sophomore year. However, applying to certain programs during your college admissions process can demonstrate a student’s passion for a specialty and help that applicant stand out. Colleges have institutional needs, and it can be easier for a school to see how you fit into the campus fabric when you have a specialty and selected course of study, rather than applying with no major at all. Other applicants may choose to go into college as undecided or select something general such as “liberal studies” as a major. Students should review deadlines and policies at their top-choice schools to learn more about the process of declaring a major at their specific institution and how choosing not to apply a specific program can impact their admissions chances.
What were my favorite classes and activities in high school?
When researching colleges and deciding what you want to study, it is important to choose a major that you are passionate about. To get some clues about what types of fields of study might work best for you, reflect on what high school classes you excelled in and the assignments you enjoyed most. For example, a student who loves high school science and aces AP Bio may wish to look into pre-medical tracks, while someone who looks forward to every essay assignment may be pulled towards a writing intensive-major such as journalism, political science, or English.
What are the requirements for this major?
In order to make an informed decision about your course of study and your best-fit schools, you need to dig deep and find out exactly what is involved in each major you are considering. Different academic programs may have various requirements and pre-requisites, such as classes in related fields, lab work, or competency in a foreign language. Research exactly what students in your prospective major need to do in order to graduate with a degree in this field, including potential culminating projects such as a thesis paper, research project, or oral presentation.
What can I do to learn more?
Reading about course descriptions and requirements is a good start, but students should take their research a step further before selecting their major. When visiting colleges, see if it is possible to sit in on a lecture that is required for the field of study you are interested in. Students may also want to look into meeting with a faculty member in their prospective major and/or reaching out to a current college student studying the topic they are interested in to learn more about the program firsthand.
How will this major fit into my career aspirations?
Take a moment to envision what you wish to do in the years following college graduation. Many students are unsure of the exact job they wish to obtain, but you likely have at least a rough idea of a couple professions that may appeal to you. Consider how majoring in a specific field may relate to these ambitions and make connections between a course of study and careers you are interested in. Many majors can tie into a variety of career paths, so don’t worry about being “boxed in” to one profession—instead, seek out internships and advanced courses to continue to explore your job interests throughout college.
Much like the college application process, research and expert input are extremely beneficial for students deciding their undergraduate course of study and the schools that offer the types of programs they’re looking for. Whether you are looking for your best-fit school or best-fit field of study, our team of expert college admissions counselors can help you identify programs and institutions that align with your passions and goals. Contact us today to learn more about our college counseling services for high school students!