College 101: How to Choose A Major

How To Choose A Major // eyelinerwingsandprettythings

Let me start with this: I’m not you, I’m not a counselor, I’m not some sort of godly figure (although I like to pretend to be), but I am a girl who was lost about choosing a major but now has chosen one she loves and will be happily graduating with it. I’m a girl who found her major through some kind of internal revelation and a lot of thought.

You know those people who just know what they want to be from the time they’re a kid? Or have their entire career planned out already? Yeah, I wasn’t always one of those people. Most of us aren’t. It took some serious changes and deliberation to get to the point I’m at today.

Choosing a major isn’t easy. In a way, you’re deciding on the path your life will be taking. You’re picking a category or vague outline of potential careers. It’s scary. It’s okay to be Undecided, most people are, but once you reach the end of Sophomore year it’s time to choose or risk being behind.

Here’s some advice on how to choose a major and how I chose my major. I hope it helps you decide!

1. Make a list of your favorite hobbies and your passions.

What do you like to do? What are you passionate about? Think of causes and topics that you love. Write down the clubs you were in in high school or clubs you’re in at college. Think of what you do in your free time—even watching Netflix can count. If you’re hugely into movies and TV shows maybe you might want to go into Media Studies. If you like video games, maybe you’d consider Programming or Video Game Design. Love shopping? How about Fashion Merchandising? Nothing is too stupid or small.

Some hobbies I had listed were writing, reading, baking, make-up, reading magazines and nail designs.

2. Make a list of things you are good at.

This was hard for me. Being good at painting my nails and typing quickly aren’t exactly careers. If you’re stumped, think about things you’ve been complimented on or things you’ve been told you’re good at. Ever since I was young, the biggest thing I’ve been complimented on is my writing ability. Every teacher I had in high school would barely notice me but when they read my writing they suddenly saw me and would write the nicest feedback on my papers. I had a teacher tell me I should do humor writing just based on one practice SAT essay. I realized I must be kind of good at writing and alas, I’m a Journalism major! These “things you’re good at” don’t have to be simple like writing or working with children. They can broader things like being a great leader or having a great eye for design.

Now, compare the lists. Do any of your favorite things cross over with things you’re good at or believe you’re good at? I noticed that for me a few beauty related things and writing matched up. Boom, I knew my dream career would be working with the beauty industry and being able to write.

 3. Are you very creative or do you prefer not to be?

Are you someone that needs to be creating things to be happy? Whether it’s stories, recipes, artwork, graphics or plans. Or do you prefer the less creative things in life like science or math? If you’re the kind of person that always says “I’m not artsy!” “I hate crafts!” or “I’m not creative” then you probably won’t be happy with a major that requires creativity. IE: Journalism, (Insert Almost Anything) Design, Public Relations, etc. If you don’t like being creative, do you like math or science? Do you prefer the methodical rather than the artsy and unpredictable?

For me, I knew I could not be happy if I was not creating something and if I could not use my thousands of ideas. If you aren’t sure about your answer, think about your hobbies. If they involve a lot of making things like music, art, poems, recipes…you’re definitely on the more creative side.

 4. Do you like people?

This sounds like a stupid question. Extremely introverted people will likely prefer a career that does not require a ton of interaction. Introverts, you probably won’t want a major like Public Relations or anything under the Communications field. Perhaps you would prefer a career that does not involve a lot of social interaction such as Accounting or Research or Data Analysis. Those who love people and are more extroverted should definitely consider a Communications or Public Relations major. Also, if you really like working with children, you definitely want to consider taking on an Education major.

5.Where would you like to be in ten years?

Do you want a stable job that requires sitting at a desk? Perhaps you might consider a Business major. Do you want a job that allows you to travel? Think about majors that involve International aspects or maybe even majoring in a specific language. Do you want a ton of money? If money is your biggest goal you might lean towards being a lawyer or surgeon. Do you want to be able to be creative? Communications or some sort of design could be it for you. Are you very passionate about fitness and health? Perhaps Physical Therapy or Athletic Training could be your dream major. Even a non-career idea of where you see yourself is useful. Do you see yourself with four kids and spending a lot of time with them? You might not want a very time-consuming and intense career like being a lawyer if that’s the case.

How To Choose A Major: Which Major is Right for Me? // eyelinerwingsandprettythings

 

6. Remember, it’s not black and white.

This isn’t like when we were kids. There aren’t jobs that are just writer, doctor, fireman, lawyer, stockbroker. There are SO many jobs you haven’t even heard of yet. Did you know being a Social Media Manager is a job? Think of a field you like and focus on that, don’t focus on simply careers. Also, trash that stigma that Art majors are going to be broke and struggle to find work and Business majors will easily find a job and blah blah. Do not consider job availability. Fact is everyone will be struggling to find a job. Do not pick a major based solely on if you think you’ll have a good chance of getting a job right out of college. Definitely consider it, but choose happiness over guesstimates, please.

7. Use The Process of Elimination.

This is NOT the ideal way to choose a life path. This is how you choose an answer on an exam when you’re not really sure. But, if you’re really lost, then do this. Pull up a list of every major your school has or every major you can think of. Go down the list and try to picture yourself doing this job. If you can’t picture at all or cringe at the thought, cross it out entirely. If you’re on the fence about it, highlight it in yellow. If you kind of like the idea of this job, highlight it in pink. Then, see what you highlighted and look up more information about the majors. Look up popular careers with that major!

8. Consider Double Majors and Minors.

Most schools have options for double majors and/or minors. I have a minor in Graphic Design because it’s been something I’ve always wanted to learn about I think it perfectly complements by Journalism major. I wanted to be a Graphic Designer at one point in life but realized I preferred writing over designing–luckily I worked both into my schedule.

If you have more than one interest and find that these interests work well together and complement each other, maybe creating your own mash-up major and minor combo is what’s best for you. For example, if you love business but also would love to be able to travel and work internationally, maybe a double major with Business and Italian with a minor in Global Studies is for you. If you want to become a teacher but have always been fascinated by psychology, you might want to major in Education and minor in Psychology. Or if you want to own your own business one day, having a Business major and Public Relations minor would be a fantastic combo. Don’t be afraid to create your own major.

9. Shadow people with potential careers or ask them about it.

If you have a professor who also works as a lawyer, ask him some questions! Learn about the pros and cons, they’ll likely be happy to talk about their career. Ask your friend’s mother who’s a graphic designer what she likes and what she hates about her job. Ask your aunt who is a teacher to take you to her classroom one day and help her out. Ask around and make all of the adults in your life like a personal resource for insight on careers. You can also find an internship to test the waters of fields that interest you.

This is so important! I was set on an Education major. I decided I wanted to teach elementary school. But then, senior year, I volunteered at a once a week CCD (basically just a religion class for kids) program where I was the teacher’s assistant. It was a class of 5 and 6 year-old kids. While I did find them entertaining and could handle them fairly well. I realized that the idea of being responsible for twenty five young children was SO stressful. Would I want to do that EVERY DAY!? Nope. Never.

10. Relax.

There is a lot of pressure to choose your major as soon as you can, but don’t rush it. Ultimately, your major does not decide your life. Business majors can end up as bloggers and graphic designers. History majors can go to law school and end up as a lawyer. Your major does not define you, but it DOES make a difference. Choose something you generally like. If you’ve made your decision and are wondering if you chose the right major, here are some ways to know!

  Do you have any tips for choosing a major?

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