At a distinctive point in their academic career, students are faced with having to decide a career path and how to choose a major in college.
Now, I could go through the typical and clear-cut steps that would put students in the right framework to make a decision, but those steps generally apply to all life related decisions.
So, I want to emphasize a different way of tackling this decision to yield fulfilling results that acknowledge the mentality of students during this process.
Choosing a college major or even simply the field you want to pursue can be an exhaustive and stressful experience.
The determination of your major is often known as the decision that narrows the gap between you and your future career and, quite frankly, life.
In a world where possibilities seem infinite, this “narrowing down” seems intimidating and daunting. Ultimately, the question of “am I making the right decision” constantly lingers.
The steps that many guidance counsellors, parents, and teachers advise, often fail to consider the inner conflict us teens go through when considering our options.
Thoughts and questions such as which interest to choose out of the many we have, or opposingly not having a strong enough interest to pursue, not being able to picture a future in the field or being afraid to do something different or change your mind all surface and are left to be internally tackled.
This internal debate between what we want for ourselves is also influenced by what others have to say about what we want to do.
This makes selecting a major that much more difficult as it is about what you want, what others expect and sometimes even about how that decision will impact your self image.
Consequently, the process becomes extremely conflicting and worrying.
What Choosing My Major Looked Like:
For the longest time, the standard question that teenagers are repeatedly asked ensued confusion, wariness and, more often than not, further questioning when I provided an answer.
It seemed as though my response; “I am planning to major in English” was difficult for some to understand as more and more people pursue complex and concrete careers in engineering or programming.
Despite having to defend my decision to those who trivialize or challenge my choice of major, one of the most difficult and significant questions asked is why I like and want to study English.
I could attempt to explain the intricacy of my decision to those who ask, but the majority of the time my simple and frank answer is “why not?”
For me, choosing a major was directly correlated to what I was passionate about and what makes me excited to learn. At age thirteen, I decided that I wanted to get into English and do something in publishing and editing.
Absolutely obsessed with reading and editing, I made this an entire goal for myself and even defined myself by it. As the years went on though, there were instances where my love for English sometimes faltered.
This hesitation made me question whether English was the right fit for me.
Surely your major had to be the single most subject that you are always captivated by no matter what, right?
I started to doubt whether I was choosing the right major for myself because of these muddled feelings.
Around me, it seemed that everyone else’s major suited them perfectly and they were undoubtedly interested in it.
This confusion was only exacerbated by those around me who undermined the success of an English major, only adding to my stress.
Eventually, when I was in search for a class to take that fit into my timetable in grade eleven, my friend who was enrolled in a law class suggested I do it too.
I did just that and ended up being so intrigued by the course material and wanting to learn more. Although happiness should have accompanied this discovery, I was somewhat scared for what this would mean for my future and my plans to study English.
Liking two very distinct courses put me in a position where I felt like I had to choose between the two. Again, an inner debate ensued.
The substantial power this single decision had on my entire future was terrifying and only subjected me to much inner debate about what I wanted to do and whether I was capable of pursuing both English and Law at the same time.
Ultimately, it took time to realize that I wanted to and could major in both because they were both subjects I love and want to delve into further.
It was only after a lot of thought, self evaluation, accepting of the fact that I would face opposition by others, and recognizing my capabilities of doing a double major was I able to make a choice towards my academic future.
Here’s What It Comes Down To:
So, the process of choosing a major is more of an internal issue than anything.
Yes, doing research and investigating various careers and opportunities in each of your interests can provide some insight into choosing a major.
However, the main thing it comes down to is self recognition through the process of examining yourself and your inner potential as much as possible.
So, here is what YOU should do:
1: Sit down and examine yourself. This may seem ridiculous and obvious, but deciding your major requires does not mean that you need to scour the internet in a desperate attempt to gain ideas.
In the end, (and trust me from experience) countless hours of googling and looking at careers or university pages does not provide a solution…just a ton of information.
Doing so would require you to take this information and critically reflect and think about it in relation to yourself. So, investigate yourself!
Pick apart what you like, what you do not like, where you picture yourself in the future and thoroughly explore yourself.
This process of self identification may seem obvious, but in a world warped with social media and the attributes of a busy and chaotic life, most of us fail to really spend time with ourselves and recognize our inner interests.
2: Do not identify your major choice with perfection. Sometimes the media or others portray their major as the most perfect and suitable interest for them. Realistically, (again from experience!) everyone will naturally find a fault in their major.
Although it is your biggest interest and passion, do remember that disliking aspects of it does not mean you are making the wrong decision. Overall, ensure you love the subject as a whole.
3: Do not compare your major to other majors or the majors your friends are pursuing. Why do that when you have found your own interests? An important thing to remember when choosing your major is that it is an individual and personal decision.
Comparing your major to other majors in both a positive and negative way is not beneficial for anyone.
4: To those who trivialize your interests and decision, remember no major is more important than another.
Although it can be good to take criticism and listen to the prospective consequences of your decision, do not let it be the factor that is hindering you from making a decision.
Every major has possible ramifications because no sole major is perfect!
5: Give yourself time. Although it sounds cheesy, it is crucial that you allow yourself time to digest what you uncover about yourself and your possible future and career path in that field.
Time is an essential part of the process. Pioneering ideas do not happen in a second, minute or hour but are constantly being worked on and improved upon behind the scenes.
The most important fact to remember when selecting a major is that it is not a definitive process. Unfortunately, there is going to be doubt and wariness.
This is simply because choosing a major is meant to draw out your most intensely opinionated and personal interests.
Instead of responding to these feelings and thoughts in panic you should appreciate them which will allow you to take steps forward in the right direction.
Impact of Attitude and Perspective
Do not view the selection of a major as the narrowing down of opportunities and your future! This will only make you fear every single possible major choice.
Instead, think of selecting your major as the decision that will open doors. Your college major choice can lead to a career that you are super passionate about. This will allow you to thrive in an environment which you love being in every work day.
Yes, choosing a major indicates your focus on a particular subject, but it should not be restrictive. You have lots of time to find things you enjoy in high school. We have also put together a guide that will help you select your high school courses.
Evidently, changing your attitude on finding a college major is what will lead to a proper selection in a less apprehensive manner.
To those currently deciding their college major, I wish you all the best! Remember the process and end result is different for everyone!