6 Ideas for Exploring College Majors

“What’s your major?” “What are you studying?” If you’re an incoming college freshman, these constant questions might be driving you crazy – especially if you don’t have an answer. It can feel like your entire life’s fate is riding on your major. Here are some tips for exploring your options and gaining perspective on majors (because your entire fate does not depend on it). Soon enough, you’ll be proudly answering with your chosen major and career goal.

1. Explore your interests, strengths, and weaknesses.

The career quizzes you took in high school are probably a little outdated. Just scroll down to 2015 on your Instagram to realize how much you’ve changed! There are a lot of handy online tools to explore, like this career finder tool from The College Board. It can be frustrating when people tell you to think about your goals…it wouldn’t be so hard to choose a major if you had a specific goal in mind, right? Instead, try thinking about your interests, strengths, and weaknesses on a smaller scale, like in school or everyday life.

2. Talk to an advisor or professor.

It can be tough to talk to your parents or friends about your education or career choices. You might feel pressured or have very different opinions. If you’re looking for some information or advice, explore the professional resources at your school. Make an appointment with an advisor, email a professor, or chat with a TA. Remember that you’re paying for the resources available at your school, so get your money’s worth out of them!

3. Beware misinformation and stereotypes.

It’s essential to do your research but watch out for misinformation. There’s a lot of stereotypes floating around the internet, especially on social media. Don’t trust every big generalization about a major, whether it be positive or negative. For example, check out these 6 common myths about college majors. There’s a wide range of realities for every major, so don’t let a little tweet scare you off!

4. Make your own choice.

Stay true to yourself and make this decision on your own. It’s important to do research and take advice but avoid letting others take too much control of the decision. Whether you like to think with your brain or your heart, whether you’re an over-thinker or a dreamer, whether you decide now or later…trust yourself.

5. It’s okay to change your mind.

Take a little pressure off by knowing that you can change your mind. In fact, approximately 1 out of every three students switches majors at least once. You’ve probably already changed your mind about a lot of your past dreams, like being a mermaid, and then a pop star, and then an astronaut. It’s time to get serious, but you don’t have to have a final answer just yet. Success is rarely a straight line, anyway.

6. Remember – your major does not define you.

For the next four years, every introduction starts with your name and your major. By the time it’s over, you’ll never want to go through the “name, major, minor” speech again. But here’s the good news: you won’t need to. In the real world, your major doesn’t define you as a professional or a person. It’s just one piece of your journey. When it comes to career options and the rest of your life, it will not define the world of possibilities at your fingertips.