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How to Choose a Major that Suits You

I’ve technically had three majors in the two and a half semesters I’ve been a college student, so I think I have some pretty qualified experience with finding a major to suit you.

Back when I applied to NKU in high school, I applied as an exercise science major. I have a big interest in health and fitness, but I knew that that field just wasn’t for me even as I typed that into the application. I was only doing it because I thought it’s something I would love, but I’m not science-y at all. I find the topic interesting, but I struggle with anything science related. Science was the only core class I could never take as honors or AP. I even avoided taking a science class during my senior year, and instead took two technical electives: photography and web design (what really got my mind hung up on blogging!)

So, during the end of my senior year, I did some research about other majors NKU offers and settled on media informatics. I officially declared that major within the first few weeks of school last fall.

What is media informatics you ask? Well you see, I’m not exactly sure. I knew it had something to do with graphic design, but it wasn’t graphic design, so when I tried to explain it to other people I just told them to look it up because I couldn’t explain it to them. Bad sign. As soon as I got fed up with people asking me, and me not being able to put it into words, I knew that major wasn’t right for me either.

I knew I needed to figure out a new major soon, to make sure I was on track to graduate in four years, so I started thinking about subjects I love and wouldn’t loathe pursuing. The first thing that popped into my head was how I missed taking math classes, and that’s how math major Caitlyn was born! I’ve been a mathematics major now since the end my first semester in college.

It’s not that easy for some students though, so I’ve compiled a list of things to think about when going about your search for a college major.

How to Choose a College Major: 7 tips to help you find where you belong | College with Caitlyn

1. Make a list of things you want to avoid in a major and career

For example, most people I know actually want to steer clear of math as much as possible. If this is you, then you want to avoid majors like chemistry, physics, engineering, and math (obviously). If you don’t want to be doing a lot of writing, avoid majors like journalism, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and English (duh).

So make a list of things you don’t want to be doing a lot of, and use that to cross off majors from your larger list of possible majors.

2. What are you passionate about?

This can help narrow down your options, but using this question alone will not help you find the right major for you. I mean, as I said, I’m very passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, but exercise science wasn’t the major for me.

So, make a list of all the things you’re passionate about and use it as a general guide on what majors to research.

3. What classes do you feel “at home” in?

I feel at home sitting in a math class. There’s no better way to describe it. In high school, I told people that I could fall asleep listening to someone talking about math, not because it’s boring, but because I find it relaxing.

Pay attention to how you feel in all of your classes. Are you bored? Intrigued? Fascinated? Tired? Take note of the classes you’re actually excited to attend, and think about if that’s a subject you would like to pursue.

4. Visit career services at your school

If you are really struggling with choosing a major, visit the career services center at your school. I never actually talked to someone at my career center about changing my major; however, I was sitting right next to it when I decided I wanted to be a math major if that counts for anything.

The people at career services are trained to help students find a major and career that is perfect for them, so make an appointment and go to talk someone about your indecision.

I may have never talked to them about choosing a major, but I will most likely be talking to someone in the next couple semesters about careers to go into because that’s where I’m indecisive!

Your school has resources for a reason: they want you to use them! So use them!

5. Don’t do it for the money or because you feel pressured

Eliminate from your list the majors you feel pressured to pursue.

A lot of times I’ve heard students say they don’t know what they want to do, so they’ll just do something that’s popular or that their relatives want them to do. Often times it’s something like pre-med, engineering or psychology. None of which are at the top of the easy to pass list, rather they’d most likely be ranked as some of the harder majors. (Not to scare anyone away from them!)

Just know, if you go after a subject you aren’t passionate about, you won’t enjoy it and won’t do as well.

6. Don’t quit because other people are better than you

There are always students who drop out of their major because they feel inferior to other students in the major. The whole point of going to college is to learn more, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with riding the struggle bus through your major. Things are going to come easily to some students and not you, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.

I’m currently taking the prerequisite class for a computer science minor, and I was very intimidated at first. There are students in the class who talk about things I’ve never even heard of, and it’s only a 100 level class! I find myself questioning if I should really be pursuing a minor in computer science often, but then I do the coding and I get in that flow zone, and I just know it’s something I want to continue.

7. Know you don’t actually have to go into a career that lines up exactly with your major

There are people who don’t go into careers related to their major, and there are people who use their college major as a way to expand their horizons.

When I was researching all the jobs you could get as a mathematics major, I was amazed at all the different fields grads had gone into. There was one guy who majored in mathematics, then when to medical school and became a doctor! Similar to that trend, I’ve heard of people that major in English, and then go into journalism instead of majoring in it outright. They know what they want their career to be in the long run, but they think they’ll benefit from taking other classes they may not have had to do otherwise.

Then there are people who major in one thing and do the exact opposite as a job. However, this usually happens when students stay in a major that doesn’t suit them and they aren’t passionate about.

Then, there are also the students who major in one thing, and then fall in love with something else after or close to graduation, so they finish their program and pursue something else.

People seem to think that your major in college will define the rest of your career, and that is not the case. Don’t feel restricted to staying in one field just because your major is one field.

Related: How I Found my Perfect College

Remember, just like there is no one perfect college for you, there is no one perfect major for you either. You if you feel drawn to more than one major, maybe consider double majoring or using one as a minor. And trust me, when you find a major that’s perfect for you, you’ll know it.

Good luck with your major search!

Did you have trouble choosing your college major? What is your major? What made you choose it? What advice do you have for students have trouble choosing a major? Let me know in the comments below!

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