How to Pick (or Change) a Major in College

Female Student with Backpack on Campus
If you’re currently pursuing a degree or are preparing to attend college soon, you might be wondering what your major should be. Perhaps you’ve known since you were young what you’ve wanted to be, or maybe you’re unsure or can’t decide between a few options. Choosing a major is undoubtedly one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. If you feel unsure of what to major in, you aren’t alone. In fact, about 80% of college students change their major at least once at some point throughout their college career (and many wind up changing their major several times). Here are a few handy tips to help you find the right major for you – or how to change it:

Ask Yourself What You Like

First of all, what do you like? You should definitely enjoy whatever it is you’ll be majoring in. Think about what you like doing in your spare time, which classes you were up your alley, which subject matters intrigue you, and what you excel in. For example, if you love learning languages and tend to do well in helping others understand the material, you might want to consider becoming a language teacher. If you find yourself drawing nonstop out of the classroom and are curious about technology, then graphic design could be your future calling.

Think About Your Future Career Goals

Now that you’ve thought about the things that interest you, it’s time to consider your career goals. What kind of jobs do people in certain majors tend to hold after graduating? Would it be easy or difficult to become employed within a particular industry? If you have a specific goal in mind, such as entering into the healthcare field or becoming an entrepreneur, then you will need to pick your major in advance since many of them have requisite classes.

And don’t worry – if you’re still not sure where you might want to be after you graduate, there’s still plenty of time for you to discover where your path will lead you!

Talk to the Experts

Sometimes it’s best to hear about real-life experiences straight from the source. Find professionals working in the field you’re interested in and talk to them about their journey. This can include your parents or guardians, family members, friends, current students, professors, or anyone with whom you interact professionally. Think up some questions to ask them and try interviewing them. You never know – their answers may surprise you and help you decide the path you wish to take!

You can also schedule a time to talk to your school counselor, who can tell you more about college majors. He or she can give you information about upcoming college fairs or how to get started exploring a possible career.

Consider Your Personality

It’s also important to consider the many aspects of your personality when you begin thinking about what you’d like to major in. Are you creative? Do you prefer to work alone or with others? Are you able to empathize with others and see things from their perspective relatively easily? Are you good at communicating, writing, and listening? Do you enjoy analyzing complex problems? These are critical questions to ask yourself when you consider your major.

Faculty Member in the Field Working with Students
Volunteer or Sign Up for an Internship

Learning hands-on is often a good way to know if you’ll enjoy being in a particular field of study. See if you can find volunteer opportunities or an internship in the field that interests you. Passionate about animals? Spend time volunteering at a local animal shelter or shadowing a veterinarian or wildlife expert. Thinking about putting your English know-how and writing skills to use in the future? Find an internship with the communications department on campus or an internship with a marketing company to gain real-world experience. You might find your passion igniting, or you might realize that you aren’t as interested in your chosen field as you thought you were.

Visit Career Services

You have a golden opportunity to get some amazing help here on campus, thanks to the incredible people at Career Services in Clark Hall! They provide a variety of programs and resources to help you plan for your future. As a Bearcat, you can take career assessments to help you learn more about your likes and personality type, learn more about career or job fairs, or get connected to helpful internships on and off campus. Stop by their office to chat or set up an appointment!

Male Students Playing in Band
Explore Your Interests

Still not sure what you want to study? Don’t worry – you don’t have to know right now. In fact, many schools don’t require you to declare your major until the end of your sophomore year. For now, tap into your interests and play the field a bit. Take some classes that interest you. Talk with your professors, advisors, and peers to see where your heart may lie. This will help you find the major – and future career – that best fits you and your passions!

Declaring Your Major

If you’ve settled on a major, you will need to declare it, especially if it’s one that requires a lot of specific classes like nursing or education. Talk to your advisor as soon as possible once you’ve decided. He or she will be able to help you with the steps you’ll need to take next.

What About a Minor?

Minoring in a subject can also be useful, especially if you have multiple interests. It isn’t uncommon to see a business major take on a music minor or an education major hold a minor in a foreign language. Minors are links that connect your academic disciplines and increase your future marketability. They can also allow you to gain skills and expand how you view and think about life and others around you. Take a look at our catalog and see if there are any that pique your interest!

How You Can Change Your Major

Guess what? Just because you choose your major doesn’t mean you’re completely locked into it! You can absolutely change it – more than once if you need to. Many students wind up changing their majors after they take certain subjects and find their true passions. If you find that your chosen major isn’t the right one for you, talk to your advisor for guidance on picking a new major and creating a schedule. Should you change your major later in your college career, you may find that your expected graduation date may be delayed. However, the most important thing is your happiness and your priorities as a future alum.

Whether you’ve got your heart set on a certain major or you’re still unsure, keep your mind open, say yes to intriguing opportunities that come your way, and talk with experts in the field for support and insight. Just remember, the person who gets to decide your major at the end of the day is YOU. The future is yours, Bearcats!