How To Explore College Majors

If you're a college student and still don't know what you'd like to major in, there's no need to panic. After all, it's a pretty big decision that you definitely should not rush into. The fact that nearly one-third of all undergraduates change majors at some point during their stay in school shows that it's better to take your time to ensure that you're making the right decision the first time around. Here are some tips to help you start exploring different majors.

  1. Review your school's course catalog. This is a listing of every class offered, along with a brief description of the topics covered in the class. As you read through the catalog, jot down the names of any classes that sound interesting to you. Once you're finished, check your notes to see if you've marked down a lot of classes within the same academic department. For example, if six different Sociology classes caught your eye, you might want to investigate that particular major a bit more.
  2. Take survey classes in any subjects that you wish to learn more about. Survey classes, such as Survey of Biology, Survey of Geography, and Survey of Art History, are lower-division courses that are intended to present students with a broad view of the subject being studied, without going too in-depth into a particular area. Taking these kinds of classes is a good way for you to get a better idea of what the subject is like as you try to choose a major.

    One point to keep in mind, however, is that most schools do not allow you to apply academic credits earned from a survey course towards a major in the same subject. So if you decide to major in Biology, you probably wouldn't be allowed to count a Survey of Biology class towards graduation

  3. Talk to people who are already involved in the majors you're interested in. Arrange to meet with several professors, deans, and advisors in each department in order to learn more about the requirements for particular majors. You should also try to speak with students who are already pursuing your prospective majors so that you can ask them about the workload, professors, and internships associated with that field of study.

    In addition, you might want to contact your school's alumni office to see if they can put you in touch with some recent graduates. You should then ask the graduates about what you can expect to encounter in the working world once you have your degree.

  4. Take a personality assessment test. Your school likely has a career center with numerous resources to help you identify your areas of interest. Many career counselors use standardized personality tests, sometimes called "interest inventories," that can give you a lot of insight regarding your likes and dislikes, as well as identify any particular aptitudes that you may have. Use these assessments to help guide your class choices and to narrow down a specific field of study that you would like to major in.
  5. Work backwards. Sometimes, the best way to explore various majors is to consider all the different jobs you might like to have after you graduate, and then to determine which majors would help you secure those jobs. In many cases, you will find that one major could serve you well in a number of occupations. For example, if you're interested in working in public relations and journalism, you'll find that majoring in English would help you land a position in either field. In other words, you don't have to worry that you're locking yourself into a single career for the rest of your life.


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