From early in our lives to the first couple years in college we are asked the same basic question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” During our whole school career we are encouraged to figure out our life plan, and if we don’t have one, we are labeled as unprepared for the future. However, in reality, figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life is a scary and difficult task to undertake and requires some serious evaluation and careful research. It is perfectly acceptable if you are a freshman or even a sophomore in college and don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Most people don’t. Even students who go into their freshman year with an intended major may change their minds once or twice, sometimes even more.
Being undecided at the start of your college career is fine. However, sitting around and waiting for your life plans to fall out of the sky and on to your lap isn’t the best way to figure out what major you want to declare. There are a few things you can do to help you actively select a major. First, find a list of all the possible majors your college or university has to offer. A lot of times you can find this list online, or you may also receive a list during orientations if you are going in as an undeclared major. Take the list, choose your favorite search engine site, and type in the search bar “What does a _____ major have to offer?” for each major you find interesting. Once you research the majors, you can cross off the ones you have absolutely zero interest in. Continue to research each major you might be considering until you have enough information to choose your top three favorite options. Narrowing your choices for a possible major helps you realize and focus on your specific interests. It can take away a lot of the anxieties around choosing a major from so many possibilities, making the decision less daunting.
Now that there are fewer options, you can really start in-depth research on your top majors, as well as the professions they lead to. One way to do so is by talking with teachers or advisers who would have a considerable amount of knowledge about the major. This can be done in several ways. If you are an upcoming freshman, during orientation or on a tour of the school see if there is any information sessions on the major or career paths that interest to you. Students who are already upper classmen should consider going to their school’s career center and talk to a career counselor about different possibilities. Finding fellow students who are already in the major could be very valuable as well. They are people to talk to for the inside scoop as to what it really is like for students in the major. Also, you can take the time to interview or shadow someone already in the profession you think you are leaning toward. What better way to learn about a career than to get a taste of it firsthand. Then if you decided that you are really interested in a specific major, consider taking one of its introductory courses. Some intro classes can count toward core class requirements as well, so don’t worry about wasting your time taking unnecessary courses. If later you find that the major is not for you, then scratch it off the list and move on. If it is something you feel a pull toward, then start pursuing the major!
If all your considerations for a major end up being dead ends, don’t panic. You might want to go back to square one and research the majors with more of an open mind, or you could take a different approach and start getting involved in clubs or community services on or around your school. Getting involved in things that interest you can be a strategy to helping you realize where your passion really lies. If you go through all these processes there is a good chance that you will end up finding a major you want to pursue. However, if you do the research and get involved and still don’t have any idea, just wait. If you are truly trying to find the right major, it will eventually come to you, even if you have to wait for the insight a little longer than others.