by Caprice Williams
Student at Chatham University
College can be overwhelming at times. There are thousands of classes to choose from and dozens of majors and minors. These decisions can seem daunting, and for good reason–they’ll help shape your education, career, and life.
Here’s How I Chose My Major
One of my biggest struggles in college was deciding on a major. When I first started college, I made up my mind to go to medical school. I was confident that was what I wanted to do, but I grew to realize it was not. In my sophomore year, I transferred schools and changed my major to Criminology. While I enjoyed the courses, it wasn’t something that I wanted to focus on. It took me a while to realize that the answer was right in front of me the whole time: writing. I was worried that I wasn’t good enough of a writer to switch my major to Creative Writing, but I took the plunge. I realized that it was all about the passion that I had for the subject. I switched my major to Creative Writing, and my minor is in Criminology.
So how do you go about finding the right path for you? It might be easier for some people and harder for others.
Start Exploring at Your University
Take a Variety of Courses
If you’re like me, taking a variety of courses can help narrow down your choices. If you’re interested in several fields of study, take a few courses from each of those areas and see which interests you the most.
A Bad Grade Just Means There’s Room to Grow
I was also worried for a long time that getting a bad grade in a class that was in my major meant that I wasn’t good at the subject, but I learned that it simply means there is room for improvement in your knowledge. Don’t let a C in one of your major courses discourage you, or even a B. Meet with your instructor if you have to and show them your rough drafts. Some of the courses in your major might be tougher than others, but if it’s something you’re passionate about, it will eventually come to you.
Make the University System Work for You
You can always add and drop courses within the allotted time period. For instance, if you start taking a class in sociology, which is something you think you might be interested in, and you’re also taking a class in physics, and it turns out you really aren’t that interested in physics, drop that course and focus on taking more sociology classes. Dropping and adding classes doesn’t affect your grade or GPA in any way, as long as you do it before the period ends.
Explore Outside of the Classroom, Too
Getting real-world experience is one of the best ways to see if something is what you really want to do. It’s not always that easy to find something related to your field, but it’s doable if you try.
Find an Internship
Internships can help as well. Although a lot of people get internships when they’re a junior or senior in college, this is a great way to decide if this path is right for you. You might get an internship and realize that field is a bad choice for you and that’s what it’s all about. Internships might also be required in order for you to graduate, but it’s still a great idea to get one.
Volunteer in Your Field
Sometimes, it’s just not possible to find an internship, or you want more experience. Volunteering can be a great way to do that. For example, if you are interested in marketing, you can volunteer to do event documentation or thank you letters. If you want to go into the medical field, there’s lots of choices. Even if you’re not doing something that directly relates to your field of interest, you should be able to watch people who are in your field to get a feel for the day-to-day job.
What to Take Away from This
It’s never too late to change your major if you discover your path later in college. I was a Junior when I finally decided on a major and career path. It might have delayed my graduation by a semester, but I’m happy with my decision.
Don’t feel pressured to know what you want to do as soon as you start college. Take different classes, change your major if you have to, get an internship, and go from there. Talk to your advisor for guidance. And, at the end of the day, your major doesn’t have to dictate what you do with your life. It’s important to take the decision seriously, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all.