How to Choose an Undergraduate Major

Three Parts:Identifying Your Interests and GoalsResearching Possible MajorsDiscussing Your Options with an Advisor

As a college student, you may be required to declare or choose your undergraduate major within your first two years of study. This can be a challenging task, as your major could have a big impact on your career options when you graduate from university. Deciding your major should be a well thought out decision, as you want to focus on your chosen field of study with motivation and determination. You should start by identifying your interests and goals, and by researching possible majors you are interested in. You should then discuss your options with an advisor to ensure you are well informed and prepared when you finally select your major.

Part 1
Identifying Your Interests and Goals

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    Write down a list of your interests. Ask yourself, what am I passionate about? What activity do I enjoy doing? Write down your key interests and then read them over. Maybe one interest really jumps out at you and you can then see if this interest translates into a possible major or field of study. Loving what you are studying will only increase your chances of success in school.[1]
    • For example, perhaps you write down “spending time with my siblings”, “helping my friends with their problems or issues”, and “working with people.” You may then be able to translate these interests into a field of study that involves supporting and working with young people, such as a major in social work or a major in child psychology.
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    Make a list of your general skills and abilities. Ask yourself, what am I good at? What skills and abilities come easy to me? What skills and abilities do I feel proud of? Identifying your skills and abilities can help you narrow down your options for your major. You may gravitate to a skill or ability that you have a natural affinity for and translate it into a field of study.[2]
    • For example, perhaps you write down “good at mathematics”, “able to problem solve”, “good at thinking analytically”. You may then consider a major where you can use your math skills, problem solving skills, and analytical skills, such as engineering or architecture.
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    Analyze your academic skills. Most undergraduates select a major in their first or second year of school. You may also be required by your academic institution to choose a major by this point in your undergraduate studies. You should consider your academic skills thus far in your undergrad and how you can translate these skills into a major.[3]
    • Look at your grades thus far in your classes. Do you seem to get stronger grades in certain subjects or areas of focus, such as English literature classes or community planning classes? You may then look for majors that include further study on subjects that you excel in.
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    Determine your goals. You should also think about the goals you would like to achieve in school and once you graduate. Perhaps you would like to graduate with a solid career path, complete with a high pay scale and job security. Or maybe you are more interested in doing graduate school later on, and want to make sure your undergraduate degree will help you get into a certain graduate program.[4][5]
    • For example, perhaps you are interested and skilled in reading and writing, with a strong interest in English literature. You may also be interested in pursuing a graduate degree later on in English literature so you can teach at the university level. You may then pursue an undergraduate major in English literature or creative writing, with the academic goal of doing graduate school later.
    • In contrast, maybe you want to graduate with a clear career path and achieve certain goals in your career after school. You may then consider a major like engineering, nursing, or social work, where you can graduate with the skills and expertise needed to enter the workforce.

Part 2
Researching Possible Majors

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    Review a list of undergraduate majors at your institution. Research the undergraduate majors offered at your college or university, as it may help you narrow down your options. You can usually find a list of undergraduate majors on your institution’s website or through your institution’s advising office.[6]
    • Many undergraduate major lists are organized by department or area of interest. You may be able to use an advanced search feature online to look for a specific major.
    • As you review the list of majors, try to narrow down your options to five to ten specific majors or areas of interest. You can then use these possible majors as guidelines for the rest of your research.
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    Determine the academic requirements and skills needed for the majors. You should then look at the coursework or curriculum of your possible majors. This will help you determine if the courses in the major will interest you and play to your academic skills and goals.[7]
    • Pay close attention to the pre-requisites required for a specific major, or the classes required to qualify for the major. You may have already taken a few of these pre-requisites in your undergraduate studies or need to take these to qualify.
    • You should also look at the the skills needed to qualify for the major and make sure these skills sound appealing to you. A major in engineering, for example, may require analytical skills, problem solving skills, and strong communication skills.
    • You should think about which majors will help you achieve your academic and career goals. You want to choose an undergraduate major that will help you prepare for graduate school or for the workforce, depending on where your goals lie.
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    Attend an information session. Most majors will offer information sessions on what to expect once you chose the major and what your career options are once you complete your undergraduate degree. You can contact the department directly for details on an information session or look for details on the department website.[8]
    • If there is not information session advertised on the department website, you should still contact the department and ask if you can discuss the major in person with a department advisor. Most departments will be eager and willing to share more information about their department and their major options.
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    Talk to students currently enrolled in your preferred majors. Reach out to students who enrolled in your preferred majors as advanced undergraduate students. Ask them for feedback on the department and the program as well as their experiences in their major. Getting first hand information from students can really help you determine if the major is actually what you want and fulfill your needs as a student.[9][10]
    • You may be able to get in touch with current students in the major by contacting the department or the program advisor. You can also ask your peers if they know of any students in a certain major that you can talk to or ask your professors if they can recommend students you can speak to about the program.
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    Take a few introductory courses. Before you jump right into the major, you may want to take a few introductory courses offered in the department. Look for introductory courses that relate to your potential majors so you can determine if a certain major might be right for you.[11][12]
    • You may be able to find a list of introductory courses online through the department website or the university website. You can also ask the department advisor for a list of introductory courses you can take to get a better sense of the potential major.

Part 3
Discussing Your Options with an Advisor

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    Make an appointment with a general advisor. To ensure you are making an informed decision about your potential major, you should speak to a general advisor to help you compare majors. A general advisor can also provide suggestions and advice on your potential majors.[13][14]
    • You can find general advisors through your institution’s website or through their student services office. Your institution may also have a student advising office that you can contact for an appointment.
    • You should bring your list of potential majors with you to your appointment. You should also have a good idea of your skills, abilities, and academic goals so you can discuss them in detail with the advisor.
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    Talk to a career counselor at your institution. You can also reach out to a career counselor at your college or university for advice on your major. Career counselors have the knowledge and expertise to help you determine your passions and interests. They can also provide guidance majors that may be right for you.[15][16]
    • You can find more information on career counselors through your institution’s student advising office. You should make appointment with a career counselor and bring information on potential majors you are considering with you.
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    Discuss your major options with faculty members. You should also reach out to faculty members in the areas of study you are considering. Set up a meeting with faculty members via email so you can get more information on the program and determine if the major is right for you.[17][18]
    • You should ask the faculty members questions about the classes they teach and the goals of the program overall. You should also share your own academic interests and goals to see if they align with what the major has to offer you as a student.
    • For example, you may ask, “Do you feel this program would fit my interests and goals?”, “Would this program be a good fit for my skills and interests?”, or “How do you see this program meeting my academic needs and goals?”
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    Ask mentors and peers for feedback. You may have a hard time identifying your interests, skills, and goals on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask mentors in your life like former teachers, coaches, and family members for feedback on your goals and skills. You may also ask your peers or friends at school for thoughts on where they think your strengths lie.[19]
    • Keep in mind choosing an undergraduate major is ultimately your decision. Though you may be swayed by feedback or discussions with others about your studies, you will need to be secure and confident enough in your choice based on your own judgement.

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Categories: College University and Postgraduate