How to Choose a Major in College

How to Choose A Major in College

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!

Good luck!

24 Replies to “How to Choose a Major in College

  1. Decision making in one academics can be very confusing and challenging if you don’t have a mentor or a guardian to put you through this process. When it comes to choosing a major, I too had a difficult time making that decision, but what I have come to realize is that you have to let go of so many things in other to get it right. One factor that influences this decision is friends and if we focus on making our decisions rather than focusing on our friends and what they are doing, we are good to go.

    1. Hello! I can really relate to the first part of your comment – having the proper resources and access to people who are knowledgeable about college and the various decisions associated with it can make a big difference! And great point, focusing on yourself should always come first. Thanks for taking the time to comment! 🙂 

  2. Hey! Thank you for sharing a great post. I think this will be great for every parent who is choosing the major for their son or daughter. Your post comes at an amazing time. Recently, my wife asks me to study about that for our son. But, I didn’t study college before. I really have no idea about that. I even don’t know what is major so I need to study from zero. It spends me a ton of time to search about that every time.

    Luckily, I landed your post. You talk about that in a simple way so I know more now. After reading your post, I find I can understand it faster. I and my wife don’t have to spend more time to research it because you already collect all the necessary information here.

    I like the part of “what YOU should do”. It just like guidelines so my family can follow it so we can what my son lack and how I can help him. I believe my son will interest in your post because he feels nervous about college. I hope it can save his time and make him calm. I will share this post with my friends too. Maybe someone worries about that like me.

    I will definitely bookmark your site and read it regularly in case I forgot the details about it. I hope you can keep sharing with us because what you write saves me.

    1. Hello! I’m happy to hear that the article helped you 🙂 It can be a difficult and confusing process, especially when you are new to it. Identifying your son’s interests and his thoughts towards potential interests will definitely allow him to explore and determine a suitable major. I wish you all the best! 

  3. Hello, this is a very crucial issue that affects our young generation today. I never had most of these tips when I was choosing a career path. These steps would really be a good guide for my cousin who is trying to choose a career path. The part of not viewing the selection of a major as the narrowing down of opportunities and your future is one piece of vital information I got. Thanks!

    1. Hi, thank you for your comment! I am glad you see how crucial this topic is and how applicable it is to many. If you do share this article with your cousin, I hope they can gain some valuable advice that helps them during their decision process. 🙂 

  4. I was impressed how your article analytically wove through the process of choosing a major. When you mentioned that being passionate about a subject comes into the decision making process I aligned with you totally. When your passion turned to indecision, I felt that was quite normal. This made me think about my approach to choosing a major. 

    In High School I studied science related subjects like physics, maths as well as music. However, I knew that my musical talents were not up to competing with so many superb musicians around and had to make a decision. I decided to opt for engineering since I found electronics fascinating. I graduated in electronics and entered the field of Light Emitting Diodes, LEDs for short.

    Instead of doing a double major I shelved music until I graduated in electronics and got my first job. It was then I resumed my music studies part time and graduated in music a couple of years later. Since my careers in LEDs was going very well, I decided to keep music as a hobby. In that way I enjoyed both subjects. 

    My advice to teens is to use a different perspective in choosing their major. Instead of thinking of a academic subject, they should think about what profession they are passionate about and then draw backwards to the subjects that would be necessary to support that passion. This may involve more than one major. And then either do them in parallel or do what I did, one after the other. 

    Thanks for writing about this very important topic that has to be taken very seriously since the decision is life shaping. 

    Cheers!

    Edwin

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, its appreciated! Your advice is extremely useful and very true, I do think students need to make a decision in terms of their interests and recognize that its okay to do both at the same time or come back and do one after. I think it was necessary for us to experience some indecision in order to find our true passions 🙂 

    2. Hey Edwin! Based on your comment I think you would appreciate reading my article on finding my career passion. It relates to how sports made me fall in love with a certain career path! You can read it by clicking here! Enjoy!

  5. Like you, I had a little bit of a problem dealing with how I should choose my major in college. You see, for many people, they might have shown their own choices before even coming, but when they begin to see what others have chosen to go for, they begin to question what their decision for a major course is. If one follows these tips diligently then it would be easy to pick a major. Nice post!

    1. Hi John! I agree, when we see other people’s decisions we often question our own – I think having confidence in yourself is also important in making this decision! Thank you for your comment 🙂 

  6. Hello there, thank you for sharing this guide on how to choose a major in college. I found this helpful. Well, I am done with HND, I studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering (Telecommunications Option). This has been my passion since I was a little boy but during the end of my Secondary School, I took a 6 months Computer Diploma at a Cyber Cafe and I must admit that I fell in love with everything computer. I decided to still go for my first love and while in school, the love for computer grew stronger and right now, all that I am fully interested in is Computer Science and Internet Marketing and Music. It feels complicated but I think these 3 are kinda related in a way to the plans I have in the future.

    As a music producer, songwriter and vocalist, I would need my knowledge of Telecommunications in my studio set up and the knowledge of internet marketing to create awareness of my brand and my music.

    So I am planning to take a professional course in sound engineering (and probably music too). All these are my passion and I feel that’s the purpose of my existence; to impact lives positivity through internet marketing and good music.

    I think both Law and English are very suitable for you 🙂

    All the best.

    MrBiizy

  7. Hey there! Choosing a major means having an idea about what you want to do, being interested in it, and surely knowing yourself to a certain extent.

    It is important to be firmly committed to choosing where to major, making a mature decision (without changing the major unless there is a serious reason). Not showing interest in choosing any major may be bad – it looks like a lack of interest in what to do as an adult.

    Of course there may occur a change in the future plans, it is not necessarily a definitive option, you said it well. And perhaps someone feels the need of majoring in several fields over the time, like you did with English and Law.

    Good luck with finishing your studies and choosing your right career!

    Kind regards, Peter

    1. Hi! Yes, choosing a major does require a lot of self recognition and appreciating individual interests. Like you said, there are a variety of ways this can be accomplished! Thank you for your comment, it is appreciated 🙂 

  8. This can turn out to be one of the hardest things for people to do because of how it can be a decider of what they get to do in the future. Now, no one wants to become useless and that’s why they always try to understand and compare their majors. I personally always get questioned and the funny thing is that I also questioned myself. I mean, why would I want to do it, but I think my passion was just enough.

    1. Thanks for your comment! Yes, I agree that the process has become more difficult because of competition surrounding careers and success which is unfortunate. Like you said, this leads to questioning and self doubt which I experienced too BUT interest and passion definitely overcome these obstacles 🙂 

    2. I don’t like that this article basically leans towards a person HAVING to go to college. I’m a college dropout and this made me feel like in place to feel complete I need to go to college. So dissapointed in this.

      1. Hi Olivia, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts! This article did not mention that individuals have to go to college. Instead, it is merely geared towards providing advice to those students who have already decided to go into college and are in the process of choosing a major. College is not for everyone, nor do you need it to be successful or complete! I apologize if you interpreted this in a different manner. I will take your comment into consideration for future articles 🙂

  9. What a fantastic article with some great insights here. Thank you for sharing this with such honesty and humility. I believe this will help many young people out there struggling with this decision.

    1. Hi! Thank you so much, I’m so happy you enjoyed the article! I tried to be as candid as possible about my experience because I know so many people share similar feelings about this taxing process. I’m glad that it came through 🙂 Thank you for your kind words!

  10. It says very well that it is very difficult to choose where to go to school. Great influence on the school is enjoyed by parents and friends as well as the environment. It is most important for students to have money to pay for their studies, food, and lodging in an apartment. This is a great stress.

    1. I definitely agree, the decision of where to go and what to study comes with MANY factors… this is why a support system and looking for advice is especially important in this process. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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