Find Your Passion: How to Start Exploring Potential College Majors
By Andrea Deck, Varsity Tutors’ Contributor
July 07, 2014
It may seem as though everyone around you knows his or her precise path through higher education, but it is simply not true.
One of the most difficult tasks high school students face before embarking on their college education is choosing a major.
The best advice, quite simply, is to wait. It may be frustrating to answer the question “What are you majoring in?” with “I don’t know yet.” But opting to explore multiple fields is a wise approach.
Certain colleges and universities encourage students not to declare their majors until their sophomore year, and many students ultimately change their concentrations anyway.
So, what should you do in the meantime?
It may be tempting to state that you feel confident about your intended concentration, as well as your freedom from further decision. Try to resist this impulse!
Students often lock themselves into a given major early in their college career, and later must complete an additional semester or two when they change their course.
It may seem as though everyone around you knows his or her precise path through higher education, but it is simply not true. In your first year, it is far more important to determine which general subjects interest you most.
Experiment with New Interests
The college or university experience is, at its core, about the unfamiliar.
In order to prepare, ensure that you enroll in classes at your high school that challenge you in uncomfortable or unexpected ways. An art or science elective, or perhaps a niche history course, may expose you to an entirely new world.
Not all experiences are academic, either—participating in clubs, interning, and job shadowing can also lead you to majors that you never considered.
Consider your early years of higher education an opportunity to build diverse skill sets and hone specific interests. In an ever-evolving working world, you cannot know now what will be of most use to you following your graduation—or ten years in the future.
Do Not Be Afraid to Change Your Mind
If your goal, since the age of two, has been a career in veterinary medicine, it may be difficult to imagine a different reality. More than half of students switch concentrations while in college or university. Therefore, your family and friends will likely understand if you decide to pursue a sudden fascination for creative writing or a strong passion for nutrition and the culinary arts.
Trust your instincts—the average high school does not offer academic programming or extracurricular opportunities in a vast number of fields.
Unfortunately, deciding on a major will only become more challenging as new areas of study and fledging careers take shape. Do your best to use this atmosphere of change to your advantage, rather than overwhelming yourself with possibility.
If you are having problems choosing a concentration, speak to a professor or to your adviser. They may be conducting research that you find interesting, or they may be able to share resources with you.
Also, keep in mind that what your parents’ generation considers to be a “good” career may or may not be a wonderful option for you or for this job market.
Andrea Deck is a professional GRE tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She is a graduate student at Columbia University in the class of 2015.
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