Choosing a field of study doesn't have to be scary!
Picking a major is vastly different for every college student. Some students arrive at college and already have an idea of what they want to study. Alternatively, other students arrive and have no idea what they want to study. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, it is OK. Major selection is one of the most difficult decisions in college and every school has a unique process. At some schools, incoming freshmen declare their major upfront whereas at other schools students wait until their sophomore year to declare their major. No matter which way your school sets up the process to decide your major, you’ll need to make this decision at some point in your college career. Here are some strategies that may help you.
Be true to yourself
One of the most important parts of this process is self-reflection. Students must reflect on both their current studies as well as where they want those studies to take them after they graduate. When selecting a major, it is crucial to think about your strengths and weaknesses and how those factors contribute to who you are as a student. That being said, if you know your academic interests do not align with your career interests, that is fine. The courses you choose do not determine your career path! Engineering, for example, is one of the few careers that it is crucial to major in as it teaches you concrete skills in order to prepare you for that career. However, many careers are different from engineering in the sense that you do not need to learn a trade to do it; rather, you need to cultivate and develop sets of skills that inherently exist in everyone.
Drown out the noise
Parents, teachers, and friends will tell you what you should do and which major is best suited to your interests. I would urge you to listen to what those people have to say, but make sure you follow your own passions. This is your journey; you should shape it yourself in order to take full agency over the process.
Focus on what you want to learn not what you think will make you money
This is a very common misconception among college students. People sometimes focus on the dollars they envision at the end of the process, rather than enjoying the process intrinsically. This can impact your success as a student; you may be less engaged or less interested in what you are learning in the classroom. This can have an opposite effect than the one initially intended. The less successful you are in school, the harder it will be to find something to do after -- and you don’t want to commit to a career that you might not enjoy!
All in all, the major selection is a process that calls for careful thought as life becomes far more difficult if you are doing something you do not enjoy. Most importantly, it is perfectly fine to know what you are interested in studying, but not know what you want to do for a career. College is not just memorizing and regurgitating historical facts and math equations. Every semester that you complete will give you foresight into the future about what you may want to do; therefore, do not worry if you don’t know exactly what career path you want to take because chances are it will become clear as time passes!
WRITTEN BY Noah Skelskie Emory University
My name is Noah Skelskie and I am an intern in the Macmillan marketing department. I am a rising junior at Emory University and was born and raised in New York City. I enjoy watching any and all sports but most of all, my New York Mets (unfortunately).