16 answers
Asked Viewed 191 times Translate

As someone who has no idea as to what they want to do besides going to college, would you recommend majoring in liberal arts?

I have many interests, such as literature, art, criminology, psychology, fitness and health. However, I have yet to decide what I want to do as a career. I plan to explore each of these in my last year of high school as well as my first couple years of my four year college. I have been told that liberal arts would be a good major to start with until I fully decide. #college #college-major #liberalarts


+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you
19
100% of 14 Pros

16 answers


Updated Translate

Shawn’s Answer

Community college is a great option if you're not sure about what you want to do and want to explore different options. It's a cheaper alternative to many four year schools and credits can often be transferred when you have a more solid decision about what you want to do. (Full disclosure: My mom taught at a community college for many years.) There's no right way to get an education, but having a plan can certainly help you get the most out of it.

"Liberal arts" is sort of a catch-all phrase and isn't really something you can major in. In general, this is to distinguish a school from a more technical school, such as one that focuses on engineering. I went to a liberal arts school and we had a couple of years before we had to decide on a major (most people seemed to know what they wanted to do pretty early though). My school's graduation requirements involved taking courses in a variety of topics.

One important thing to remember is that you'll be able to learn throughout your entire life and even if you major in a particular topic, that doesn't mean you have to stop learning about all of the other things you're curious about.

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Bashayir’s Answer

If I am unsure about my major or what want to do in future, then I'd keep my options open and register as undecided in a college or university where I can switch my major relatively easily, assuming that they have different options available. I would then take courses in different areas with an open mind, continue to do my research in these areas, and once I have a better idea then I would switch my major to the appropriate field of study. You can also transfer to a different college if your major is not offered in your current college.

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Matt’s Answer

Great question, Isabelle--I was asking this same question at one point! My main recommendation for this time in your life is to experiment as much as is comfortable for you. Since you don't know what you want to do as a career, there is no prescribed path to follow, and I think that's super exciting! Cast your net wide using your interests as starting points, and then use the skills and intuition you gain along the way to refine your options.

If you want to learn about a specific career, identify people who are doing it, and reach out to see if they're willing to have a conversation. I have found that people who love what they do love talking about what they do. Doing a bit of homework prior to these conversations goes a long way. Ask them about the challenges they currently face and the path they took to get where they are. If they attended university, ask them about how they selected their major.

On the topic of majors, I wouldn't stress it too much. For certain careers, your specific topic of study will absolutely matter, but that's probably not true for most careers. I bet you can find reputable sources online that find positive correlation between major and career, but this Forbes article supports my bias that in most cases it's not so important: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2015/08/12/six-reasons-why-your-college-major-doesnt-matter/

Besides, you will likely be able change majors if you need to--the first year or so of almost any major will include a variety of courses--and whatever major you ultimately choose doesn't need to limit the career options for the rest of your life. For me, majoring in English allowed me to explore literature of course, but also art, biology, history, math, and business. I learned how to learn, and I gained critical thinking and research skills. I learned that I am motivated by solving problems. I have worked in the software and technology industries in the six years since graduating, and I continue to study computer science to help me solve problems.

The only constant in life is change, and the world and employment environment will likely be different in a few years than they are today. Having a set of foundational experiences and skills will give you the confidence to approach whatever problem or situation is in front you and adapt.

Matt recommends the following next steps:

Experiment with Variety: Read, Participate, Play, Travel, Volunteer
Practice Active Listening
Ask Good Questions
Refine Your Interests
Repeat

Thank You Matt. “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” — Kofi Annan John Frick

0
Updated Translate

Eric’s Answer

Hi Isabelle,

Speaking from my personal experience, it's very common to change your major once you start college so declaring your major is not as critical your first two years. In college, I had taken politics, economics, computer science, legal studies, and math courses. I had also joined several organizations in college to get exposed and have discussions and talk to other college students about their interests to help guide me to see if I wanted to focus on something in particular. I think you will also see what subjects you naturally tend to do better in and find more interesting. This may also help guide you in one direction of the other. One other thing to mention is the classes I took in college helped me with my writing, communication, analyzing problems which are skills that will be very useful and practical for you no matter what job or career you end up choosing in life.

Hope this helps!
Eric

0
Updated Translate

Eric’s Answer

Hi Isabelle,

Speaking from my personal experience, it's very common to change your major once you start college so declaring your major is not as critical your first two years. In college, I had taken politics, economics, computer science, legal studies, and math courses. I had also joined several organizations in college to get exposed and have discussions and talk to other college students about their interests to help guide me to see if I wanted to focus on something in particular. I think you will also see what subjects you naturally tend to do better in and find more interesting. This may also help guide you in one direction of the other. One other thing to mention is the classes I took in college helped me with my writing, communication, analyzing problems which are skills that will be very useful and practical for you no matter what job or career you end up choosing in life.

Hope this helps!
Eric

0
Updated Translate

Abby’s Answer

I went to a liberal arts school (so take this perspective with a grain of salt) but I think my education was valuable because the people there appreciated how different disciplines overlapped. It wasn't unusual for someone to double major or major in one area but have 1 or 2 minors. And our career office had a strong alumni connection, which helped me explore further what I wanted to do. And sometimes what you major in doesn't end up exactly becoming a career! I knew someone who majored in geology but ended up working in marketing and really liked it.

In my view, I think liberal arts helps you develop flexibility when it comes to learning and grow a variety of valuable skills. And as people have said above, liberal arts schools often have core classes that are required, which can help you decide what you want to do.

However, if you start exploring schools and don't find one that you really like, or don't feel that a school won't support you in the way you want in career exploration--it's not a bad idea to take a gap year. The important thing is to develop a plan for what you want to achieve and be able to talk about it when applying to school or a future job. Good luck!

0
Updated Translate

Alexandra’s Answer

You don't have to be sure about your major or career. If you go to a good school, the school will allow you to pick your major after the first year. Try everything! Take a course in a science you never thought might interest you, in a foreign language, in social sciences like anthropology or religious studies. College exists to help you learn and grow. Choices come with learning. You are not married to your major or career either. What matters is that you open your mind to learn.

0
Updated Translate

Riley’s Answer

Depending on what your college requires for this major specifically, most majors will set you up well to take a lot of general prerequisites. Your whole first year will mostly consist of general education classes, so your major will not be all that important. However, do consider that most colleges will let you enter as Undecided, and your academic advisor will plan your general education courses accordingly so that you can smoothly transition into any major.

0
Updated Translate

Abbey’s Answer

I went to college not knowing what I wanted to do.

The beauty of College is that there are a lot of basic courses that are needed for all majors. I ended up being a communications major, with an emphasis in Marketing. I work in HR now, and never took a single HR course. General Business may be a great place to look too depending on your university.

I would suggest taking a look on websites like glassdoor to see what jobs may be available in areas that you would like to live one day. Build backwards from there. Be realistic on what you want out of a career. Pay attention to potential salaries, cost of living, and potential cost of your education.



0
Updated Translate

Douglas’s Answer

Most liberal art universities have a set of core classes and electives that are required during the first 2 years, which will give you a lot of exposure to the different areas you are interested. Eventually you will declare a major area of study and will devote your 3rd and 4th year focused on this major. Good luck!

0
Updated Translate

Arina’s Answer

In my experience going to college without a plan and a passion could be a wrong choice at all. Most of the high-school students don't know what they want to do in life but go to college anyway just because that is something that everyone does. Obviously, a college education is important but it should be a tool for you to help you reach your goals in life, it shouldn't be an end in itself.
I'd recommend you to take your time exploring all of the opportunities you've listed here. And maybe even consider a gap year to truly find something you want to study.

Arina recommends the following next steps:

Try to find some online-courses on the topics that interest you to help you decide what your passion is
Check-out some volunteering opportunities
Ask yourself: "Why do I want to go to a college?"

0
Updated Translate

Khrystyna’s Answer

A lot of people change their majors during first or second year of college. I know I did. The first year or more you will be taking core classes anyways, so this will help you find your passion. You can always start with undeclared (undecided) and declare your major later, but make sure you check regarding scholarships and financial aid, sometimes they require you to declare major in order to qualify.

0
Updated Translate

Douglas’s Answer

Most liberal art universities have a set of core classes and electives that are required during the first 2 years, which will give you a lot of exposure to the different areas you are interested. Eventually you will declare a major area of study and will devote your 3rd and 4th year focused on this major. Good luck!

0
Updated Translate

Blake’s Answer

Hey Isabelle,

If they don't require you to enroll in a major your freshman year, then I would encourage you to not declare a major. You can take out most of your core classes that you have to take regardless of your major while you decide. This way you aren't taking classes that won't apply to your future major and it will give you time ask your professors about career paths.

Thanks,
Blake

0
Updated Translate

Kim’s Answer

Isabelle,

It's really hard to know what you want to do if you haven't done it! I wouldn't stress too much over this right now. Why? Because unless you want to go into a field that requires a lot of specialized training (doctor, attorney, accountant) you will likely be a generalist. People nowadays do not stay with one employer or even one occupation for any length of time. So, you will likely have several jobs over the course of your career. Each one will serve as a stepping stone to the next, and you will learn to market yourself using your "transferable job skills."

As an example: I was a police officer for 25 years. My next job was at the workforce center, helping people find jobs. What did I highlight on my resume from my time in law enforcement? My ability to talk to people, and get them to open up, without having to use force. Deescalating situations. Completing good reports. Serving on the review board for hiring officers. Training new officers. My ability to drive fast and dodge other cars wasn't important, so it didn't go on the resume!

I encourage you to get some real world experience as you go through school. Coming out with a degree and no experience will make you less competitive. It could be customer service (call center, banking, fast food, retail, whatever) which everyone appreciates, internships, volunteering, or ? It can all be listed on a resume.

When I went to school, I didn't know where I was headed. I honestly just went to learn, because I realized HS hadn't taught me critical thinking skills! I majored in Sociology, but took electives in Criminal Justice and Political Science. We did not have an option to have minors.

I encourage you to do one thing. okay, maybe two.
1. don't take the "Easy" professors. Challenge yourself academically. Find the "good" professors who will push you to truly learn.
2. When you select your classes, read the information carefully. Make some wise choices when you have choices to make. For example, If "Constitutional Law" will substitute for Government 101, take it! There are usually a lot of these options on the basic intro courses.
3. Get out of your comfort zone. Take some economics, business, etc. Esp. if you might want to run your own small business through Etsy or something. You will need to learn about marketing, tax laws, etc.

I think it is important in college to learn how other people think and have real discussions. Don't surround yourself with only liberal arts friends. The more we can learn to appreciate others' points of view, the better chance we have of solving some of the more significant problems facing us today!

0
Updated Translate

Kim’s Answer

I would suggest starting as undeclared. However, more important than that, I would suggest starting your college career at a community college. You can keep your costs down while you sort out the major you want to declare. Take your general classes and get them out of the way . The university you ultimately go to should match the major you declare. You'll want to look at the best universities for that major rather than choosing a university based on things like geography or because someone you know went there. The closer you get to deciding a major and, consequently, a university, do your research to make sure the classes you are taking/plan to take, will transfer.

0