Picking a Major
Picking a major can be one the hardest or easiest things about college. Some people go into school already knowing what kind of career they want and many more do not decide until much later.
Know that there is nothing wrong going into college with an undecided major. But keep in mind that the longer you wait after your first two years, the longer it will take for you to finish school.
Here a some tips for picking a major:
- Consider all the options. Especially at large state universities, there are more choices than you can shake a stick at. Don't be afraid to explore different fields, you never know what may catch your interest!
- Pick only after taking two or three advanced courses in the field. It's always a good idea to select your major only after taking a few upper division courses in the area (you know, the ones with the prerequisites). That's because, at college, the introductory courses in a field can be a lot more watered down than the real courses in the major. In some fields it can be a surprisingly short step from "That course was kinda interesting" to "This class is totally over my head."
- Pick something you're good at. Try to pick a major that you're doing well in, and avoid choices in which you're falling flat on your face.
- Pick a major for a career you want. In today's economy – and with the high costs of college tuition – many students are selecting their majors with an eye to the eventual career prospects. Unfortunately, quite a few students do not take enough time to consider whether they actually want to do the career they're planning for. Often it's only when they are a short step from graduation (or even just-graduated) that the true moment of horror and dread sets in.
- Ask someone who's been there. Often the best source of information is an advanced undergraduate who is currently enrolled in that major (ask the undergraduate adviser for a recommendation, if you don't know one). Once you've located your partner in crime, be sure to ask him or her who the good professors are, what courses are ballbreakers (and what to do about them), and what out-of-class activities (internships, conferences, study abroad, etc) he or she has found most useful.
- Pick something you like. This is one of the most important tips. You're going to have to take 10 or 12 courses in your major, so it'd make your life a lot nicer if you actually liked the field. It's especially nice if you have a passion for the discipline, but a lack of burning desire doesn't have to be a deal-breaker as long as you have at least an academic interest in the field.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to pick a major that you can create or have a career in. Notice I said career and not job. Your career will be something that you love doing and could see yourself continuing to do for many years. Good luck!