6 Smart Questions to Answer Before Choosing a Major in College
Is there any decision more stressful than choosing a major? Having answers to these 6 questions is sure to make this huge life choice a lot less terrifying.
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Believe it or not, my original major was Aerospace Engineering. I was good at math and science, obsessed with space, and my school had the best program in the country. But when I settled into my dorm and looked over the course catalogue to create my schedule, reality set in.
I was looking at 6(!) more semesters of Calculus and Analytical Geometry. With accompanying labs. My eyes glazed over. And then panic set in. Just because I could do differential equations didn’t mean I wanted to look at them for the rest of my life!
So I flipped through the catalogue to find a major with classes I could actually get excited about. And I found Psychology. I am so glad I made that swap, because I LOVE my job. If I can’t sleep at night, it’s because I’m that excited about a presentation I’m preparing for.
Are you interested in choosing a major you’re that excited about? All you have to do is ask yourself the following questions.
1. What am i passionate about?
Life is a lot more interesting when you get to do something you love everyday. So what do you get really excited about? What is really fun for you? What change do you want to see in the world after you’re gone? If you have a passion for listening to people’s stories and helping others, maybe sitting alone in a lab all day isn’t the life for you.
2. What am i really good at?
This is not the time to be modest. There’s a quote by Dale Carnagie that I absolutely love. He says, “Everyone you meet is your superior in some way.” Now he meant that statement as a reminder to treat everyone with respect. But I think it’s a great reminder to those of us who lack confidence that you too are also superior to everyone you meet in some way. So, what are you naturally good at? What do other people say you’re amazing at? Find the place where your passion and talent intersect, and you’re in business.
3. Why am I choosing this major?
Once you have an idea of what you want to major in, ask yourself why. When it came to engineering, I chose it because my parents told me I needed to do something in a STEM field and at the time, engineers were making a lot of money. That was it. I had no passion for the work or honestly, even any idea of what the job would actually be like.
Not only do I think I would have been bored out of my mind in a job like that, a bunch of my engineering friends got laid off a few years ago because there was more engineers than work. So, choosing a major solely based on what you think you’re going to get paid is not the way to go.
4. Am I interested in the classes for this major?
You’ll have to take a certain number of credits for math, science, and language no matter which major you choose. Every degree is going to have a few classes that make you nervous or put you to sleep. But if you’re looking down the list of required classes and you’re not excited about any of them, you might want to reconsider how much you’re going to enjoy the work you’d be doing after you graduate.
5. What jobs can I get if I choose this major?
I took a little short cut when I told you the story of my choosing my major earlier, so I’ll fill you in on the rest now. I actually switched my major to Criminology after Aerospace Engineering. I watched Silence of the Lambs as a kid and I totally wanted to be in the FBI like Jodi Foster. (I know, I was a really weird kid.)
But, when I told people my major, they always asked if I planned on being a police officer. I was like, “Uh, no!” No disrespect to police. I am just so not the run into the middle of danger, lock up the bad guys type. What I ACTUALLY wanted to do was understand people who were having a hard time and help them turn their lives around. Once I realized that, it was an easy swap to Psychology, which made way more sense for me.
So check out the jobs people usually get with the major you’re interested in. Are they jobs you would enjoy doing? See if you know anyone who already has that job and ask if they can tell you more about it or even let you shadow them. It’s definitely worth looking into before you commit.
6. What other majors will get me the job I want?
I saved the best for last, y’all. Once you know what kind of job you might want, you still have plenty of options. And that’s actually a great thing!
Let’s say that despite your parents pushing for medical or law school, what you really want is to be a writer. You want to major in English, but everyone says that you won’t be able to find a job or make any money.
The good news is, there are LOTS of majors that can help you become a writer. A science major could inspire amazing science fiction. Political Science would be great for a career in journalism. You get the idea. You can still take writing classes for your electives. And with majors like those, you still have lots of options if you decide that the writing game isn’t for you after all.
Whatever your plans, please know that choosing a major isn’t a life or death decision. Every degree opens a path to an amazing future. It’s really a win-win situation. And if you determine that the major you choose isn’t for you after all, you can always change it. Lord knows I did!