wikiHow to Decide on Your Major

Two Parts:The Big QuestionsExplore Your Options

Choosing a major can be a daunting task, especially when it seems like everybody around you has already set their futures in stone. While your choice of major is by no means permanent, choosing the right major early on can save you a great deal of time and money. Read this article to learn how.

Part 1
The Big Questions

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    Consider your passions, interests, and values. These questions are extremely important, but are far too often overlooked by students. Instead, people tend to ask themselves: "What jobs can I get with this major?" "What can I do with this major?" It's important to remember that your major isn't necessarily a direct route to a future career. Even if you do get the job you were planning on getting your freshman year, the best way to ensure happiness and success in that job is to do something you care about. And that starts with your education.
    • When considering your passions, think beyond hobbies like sports or musical instruments. Think about the impact that you want to make on the world and the legacy you want to leave behind. Are you passionate about business? Do you want to save the environment? Are you an artist? Do you love math? Do you want to be a doctor?
    • Keep in mind that not only may your interests change over the next four years, but that technology and the economy are constantly changing. By the time you graduate, the job you were planning on getting could be obsolete, while hundreds of new jobs that never existed before may have emerged.
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    Think of your favorite subjects and classes in high school. Even if you don't know what you want to be "when you grow up," you can still determine your skills and interests by looking back at your academic history. Consider not only which subjects you enjoyed the most, but which subjects you excelled at.
    • Which classes were the most exciting and inspiring to you? Were they science classes? Math classes? English classes? Creative classes like art or theater?
    • Consider which classes you performed the best in. "Easy A" classes don't count; think of challenging and comprehensive classes in which you performed well.
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    Consider job prospects, but don't obsess over them. Don't think of choosing a major as applying for a job; think of it as choosing your life's path. The jobs, internships, and other opportunities that open up for you as a result of following your passion come second. On the other hand, if your passion lines up with your career plans, then choose the major that will get you there fastest. If you want to be a doctor and have always wanted to be a doctor, then consider majoring in biology.
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    Decide what type of degree you want. While you may still be totally lost, you can narrow down your decision by deciding between a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Sciences (BS). Remember that the classifications for BA and BS may vary between schools, but in general, the following guidelines apply:
    • BA degrees include liberal arts and social science majors like Political Science, International Relations, English, Art History, Sociology, and Cultural Anthropology.
    • BS degrees include science and math majors like Engineering, Biology, Evolutionary Anthropology, and Economics.

Part 2
Explore Your Options

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    Read the course catalog at your college or university. If you have already been accepted to a school, then read the course catalog to learn about the different majors, their requirements, and the types of courses involved. Remember that sometimes the titles of classes are misleading, so be sure to read some of the course descriptions for more details.
    • Be sure to read an up-to-date course catalog, as majors and their requirements change over time.
    • Take into account the number of units you will need to take, the subject matter, and the work load.
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    Consider your school's reputation. Does your school specialize in Journalism? Agriculture? Medicine? Engineering? If the quality of the education you receive is of utmost importance to you and you are still undecided between majors, then consider which departments or majors your school is most well-known for.
    • Do some research on your college to learn about which departments are most reputable, and which professors are most esteemed and recognized in the academic community.
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    Set up a meeting with a counselor. Whether you are undecided between two or more majors, or have absolutely no idea what major to choose, then set up a meeting with a counselor at your college. If you haven't graduated yet, then set up a meeting with your high school counselor.
    • Remember that colleges have counselors that specialize in different departments, so they can fill you in on any unanswered questions.


  • Don't let your parents (or anybody else) dictate what your major should be. It's good to get advice from as many people as possible, but when push comes to shove, it's your life, not theirs. Take control and do what you want.
  • The people who make the biggest difference in the world are the people who love what they do. Pick something not because of money or prestige alone, but because you love it. If you do what you love then you will be willing to work far harder than others in the field.
  • Don't be afraid to ask. Ask for experience from people you know and maybe some you don't quite as well.
  • Remember that most colleges and universities allow you to change your major multiple times during the course of your education. While you certainly don't want to rely on this option, it can take some of the pressure off and allow you to explore options.
  • Don't put off your decision until the last minute. Most colleges give you a year or two to declare a major. If you have a hard time deciding, go ahead and take as much time as you can, but start thinking about your choice at the beginning of your freshman year--or before. College is hard work (and a lot of fun), and it's easy to get caught up in your day-to-day routine, but you can avoid a lot of the stress of choosing a major by exploring your options in advance.
  • Look to your role models for advice. Is there somebody you look up to who has your dream job? Set up a meeting with this person to ask their advice. If you don't know this person, then do some research to see how they go where they are now.
  • Your chosen major won't always "lead" to your ultimate career. You might find yourself using your college experience as background but working in another area that you like or love and can do well. Your degree may be more (or less) valuable to your employer, depending on the significance of your major to the work. A trained engineer had to major in engineering, but a marketing or customer service type of career can accommodate various college backgrounds. Furthermore, medical schools, law schools and some other graduate programs frequently do not require certain bachelor degrees so long as the applicant can pass the graduate entrance exam and has taken some related courses. Despite what you may hear, your choice of major probably won't make or break careers that are not "by-the-book" nor requiring an advanced degree. Some employers do on-the-job-training and seek college graduates simply because they can choose applicants who are literate, persistent, possess self-control, can be trained and can grow into their career environment.

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