Next to choosing where to spend the next four years of your life, the decision of what to major in can be one of the most daunting - especially with such a broad range of options (UF offers 120+!). I started my college career with little idea of what I wanted to study and spent quite a bit of time exploring all the possibilities before choosing one. While I’m so thankful for my journey, I believe these questions would have been beneficial for me to begin considering earlier than I did. With that in mind, here are some tips on picking a major:
1. Get to know yourself
What do you like to do? Truly like to do? While major is not destiny, it can ultimately play a big role in your future career, so it’s important to pick something that you enjoy. Also consider, what are you naturally good at? What are your passions? What do you value? Thinking about the answers to these questions will help you to understand what makes you unique. Seeing a career counselor to talk through your personality and desires can also be very helpful.
2. Think about careers
As you think about what you like doing, start researching to see if there are any careers that allow you to do the things you enjoy. Think about what you value in a lifestyle or in a career. Does it matter more to you that you are doing something specific, that you are living somewhere specific or that you have a specific schedule?
Talk to family, friends, neighbors and professionals. Consider reaching out to professors or anyone who might be able to give you some sort of information about any career you’re considering. See if you can shadow someone who works in this field for a day or a few days to get insight into their life. Ask them what they like and dislike about their job, and how they got to where they are today. Did they have to study something specific? What level of education did they need? If you don’t know anyone working in a certain career, a great tool for finding answers to these questions is the College Board’s Big Future Website.
3. Get to know the majors
While your major won’t necessarily dictate your job or career path, it will shape the classes you take in college and the things you spend your time thinking about. The best way to get to know the various majors is to research them. Pick a couple of majors that interest you and read through the classes that you would take for each of them. Most course syllabi are online and easily accessed with a simple Google search. Do the class titles, descriptions and syllabi lead you to believe you would enjoy the courses?
Look up the faculty for the college where the major is found. Find out who they are and what they are interested in. Does their research interest you? Do they seem like people who would encourage connection, learning and growth?
Also, it’s important to keep an open mind. With so many different majors to choose from, you are bound to find something you’ve never heard of that might just be the perfect fit.
4. Ask for help
Chances are, someone you know has gone through the stress of deciding what to study and/or has struggled with their career path. Ask them for advice, and to connect you to other sources of information or people who could help you. Ask your high school counselor, your parents, your friends and their parents, your coaches, your doctor… anyone whose advice you would value! For examples of questions to ask a counselor or advisor, check out the College Board’s guide to choosing a major.
As you explore your options, remember this: your major doesn’t define you. Many students start their college career without a set major, and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, up to 80 percent of students in the U.S. end up changing their major at least once. Keep an open mind, do your research and keep asking questions. You will find the right fit!