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What do you wish you knew before going to college and deciding your major?

I have one more year left of high school and am currently looking into colleges and majors to decide where I will be applying to in the fall. As excited as I am for the future, I am very new to all of this and want to make the right decisions when it comes to paying for college, choosing the right one and deciding on a major. #college #college-major #college-advice #college-admissions


Know that it's ok to be undecided at first. I went my first year of college being undecided. I wanted to have the ability to explore different areas of study before I chose one. I ended up getting all my university requirements out of the way my first year and was able to focus on my major from sophomore year on. Don't rush into a major you are unsure about. Regan S.

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John’s Answer

Isabelle, No matter which college you attend or which major you choose, your first two years will mainly consist of the same set of classes. A community college gives you a chance to test the waters at a drastically lower cost than a four-year university. You can explore different classes or fields to determine if you really want to pursue your chosen major.

FOUR BENEFITS OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Attending a community college for the first two years can be especially beneficial because a lot of your personal growth and maturation occurs the first few years after high school. During this transition, you'll learn time management and motivational skills. You'll also learn how to juggle multiple responsibilities, persevere through tough challenges, and develop self-discipline. You can learn the same lessons at a four-year university, but there are many more distractions that can take your focus away from academic and personal growth. At a community college, it’s often easier to learn how to be a good student.

1.) OPTIONS – It gives you a chance to explore your options. Some students know what career they wish to pursue before they even graduate from high school. Then there are some students who still aren’t sure which career option is right for them after a full year of college. By enrolling in a community college program, there is more of an ability to explore different career options because the classes are far cheaper than they are at comparable institutions. If you’re not sure what your major should be yet, a community college is your best bet.

2.) COST – It is much cheaper to attend a community college. The most obvious reason that students attend community college is for the financial advantage. Many community colleges cost less than two thousand dollars each semester to attend full time. Attending community college gives students the chance to prepare for the financial demands of a 4-year university if they plan on transferring. Compared to the price of tuition at in-state public universities, students can save 50% or more on their educational costs for the first 2 years of their undergraduate degree. When compared to private colleges or universities, students at a community college might save up to 90% on their tuition costs.

3.) FLEXIBILITY – Community colleges usually have flexible schedules. If you attend a “standard” college or university, then your class schedule typically follows a 9-5 day, much like a job would. That can make it difficult for you if you're planning on working part time to help pay for your tuition costs. Many students don't realize that if they plan on working while attending school, community college is hands down the best option. They offer far more night classes than other universities and more schedule options, making it easier to earn the credits each semester within a schedule that works for you.

4.) TIME – You'll get extra time to choose the right college. Some students have their choice of college or university dictated to them by scholarship. Others may have multiple options and be unsure of which institution to attend. Instead of forcing the choice and potentially going somewhere that does not meet your needs, you can choose to go to a community college instead. Instead of spending thousands of dollars at a private university towards a major that you are less than sure of, consider attending a community school while you are making your decision. Classes cost less, so you will have the opportunity to explore interests that you might not have otherwise pursued. That gives you time to select a university that meets your expectations right curriculum for your major.

Isabelle, community college can be a perfect choice for you if wish to save money and reduce your dependence on student loans. It’s also a good way to help you ease into college life and build a successful learning strategy before they transfer to a bigger – and more expensive – university.

Hope this was Helpful Isabell

John recommends the following next steps:

Create Your College Road Map. Do you ever get on the freeway to drive to an unknown destination?
Create Your College List. Now that you have your map, you can start the creative process! You can begin construction on your college list.
Research Deadlines, Applications, and Costs. Colleges all have different requirements, deadlines, costs, etc. Create a system to keep track of everything.
Apply! Submit your applications well in advance of their due dates.

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Thank You Shawn. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi John Frick

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Thank You John. No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another. John Frick

Thank You Ken. “Help one another. There’s no time like the present, and no present like the time.” – James Durst John Frick

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Sonya’s Answer

Honestly, I wish I knew myself better.

I would have asked others: what strengths do you see in me? You've seen how I handle things; what do you think I need to work on? (I wouldn't have asked about weaknesses because that is subjective). I really want to know what others' 'end user experience' is of me...what is it like to be on the receiving end of me.

If I would have known myself better, I would have been more confident in my career choice, my major/minor, my college choice. In essence, I would have made quality decisions from my core - not what others thought I should be/do/feel/say.

Until you do some serious self-introspection, you may float in and out of decisions without reason, without reasoning, without KNOWING YOU!

But the BEST part is...you can start right now:)

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Moe’s Answer

Ask yourself what areas you're truly passionate about. It doesn't have to a specific career, but general areas like "helping people" or "working with data". This will help you narrow down your interests and as you talk to more people in college or professionals, you can keep in mind those passion areas that you started out with.

Ideally you find a career that you love. I loved art in high school and turned that into a career in design which I love. I've seen so many people in careers that were perhaps pushed on them by parents that they don't really enjoy.

The other part is not to put too much pressure on yourself at this stage. Even if you find that the career you chose is not right for you, you can change it later. Not ideal, and it can take more time and money, but I've seen people change careers later and not regretted it.

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Shawn’s Answer

I just wanted to second John's answer. I think community college is an extremely valuable and cheaper alternative if you want to take a little more time to think about your education (and not just because my mom taught at a community college :). It can be helpful to learn both what you enjoy and what you really don't enjoy.

For me, although I had a pretty good sense of what I wanted to study in college, I think it might've been helpful to take a year or so off between high school and college to get a better sense of what I wanted to get out of college.

Thank You Shawn. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi John Frick

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Riley’s Answer

If you are really not sure what you want to do in your future, I think your biggest regret would be rushing into a major. I know a lot of people who rushed into picking one they didn't really love, and now they're stuck in a career that they don't feel passionate about. If you are unable to narrow it down to one career path, you could always go in with an undecided major. Once you get to college, the first conversation that you will have with most of the other freshmen you meet is what major they are. Throughout this process, you will learn so many majors and careers they could take you down that you didn't even think of before! I think taking the first semester to decide is always a safe choice because it will not put you behind academically but you can make a more educated decision.

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Isabelle! This is a very great question because I feel that many students do struggle in deciding their major and path when going into college. When I was a high school student around my second year I decided I definitely wanted to pursue medicine, so I kept at it with coursework taking an AP class for the first time and volunteering as often as possible. First of all see what interests you in terms of a major, do you like science, art, teaching, literature? It's really what makes you passionate. Even if you enter college without a clear path as to what you would like to do you can be undecided, you declare it going into college, and by your junior year you get to pick a major. For the first two years you really explore, you take general education classes-- all students have to take this regardless even if they have their major picked-- but in these classes if you are undecided you can definitely get to explore and see what you like.

Choosing the right college- I'll always remember my chemistry teacher's advice, when it comes to picking the right college you also have to look beyond academics and also feel comfortable on campus, because if you don't like the campus genuinely then you may have a hard time fitting in. When I was in high school there was college fairs that would come to the school and we would explore them and get to see which colleges would fit our interests- these can be sports related, science related, engineering, etc.- there are many different schools out there! Make sure to visit the campuses as well, many if not all colleges offer tours both with groups and individual as well. It's important to see the campus and learn the size as well, because some campuses can be very large and seem more difficult to navigate while others are smaller in comparison. Your guidance counselors are a great help in this, they have many information about different colleges so always seek their help and ask questions!

Paying for college- There are many options now to afford college, financial aid is the biggest one! You must first fill out a FAFSA and enter your parents'/guardians' income and see what kind of financial aid can be awarded. There are Pell grants/TAG Awards, which you don't have to pay back, then there are loans such as subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized is better because interest is paid and doesn't accrue while you are in school at least half-time (about 12 credits) unsubsidized loans begin to build up on interest right after you take the loan so be sure to be careful when choosing which one! Make sure to check out fafsa.ed.gov, because they offer important information about loans and paying for college. There are also scholarships, some could be offered through your school so once again check with your guidance counselor and some are online that you can fill out based on if you fill the criteria to be eligible. Scholarships.com is one of the main sites that offer many scholarships. In addition to getting a financial aid, you can also qualify for work study as well. I did work study during college and you get a small salary which definitely helps with purchasing books and other necessities.

In the end college is an important choice and spending some time evaluating options and seeking help from others can definitely help in making the right choice. Congratulations to all achieving this path!

Best of luck!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps:

Check out fafsa.ed.gov
Check out scholarships.com
Keep in touch with your guidance counselor

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Abby’s Answer

I would start by considering your list of priorities when it comes to college and putting them into 'must-haves' vs 'nice to have but not necessary.' This can help you narrow down a list, especially when there's so many options out there. If you know what you want to major in, that can help you narrow it down further, but if you don't, that's ok! You can gauge the academic environment by of course talking to admissions officers, but also reaching out to professors or students/alumni. And when you visit, come prepared with questions/specific aspects of the school you were interested in seeing more about. (As a former tour guide, I can say it's great when people ask questions, especially the challenging ones. And we're open to staying in touch even after the tour!)

Financially, you can take a look at what the college offers in terms of grants vs scholarships, along with how they support students throughout their years (such as summer funding or money for study abroad).

Something that I really appreciated about my university was the small class sizes, which helped me build connections especially with professors, which I found really helpful when making career decisions or when I needed letters of recommendation. Hope this helps!!

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Katie’s Answer

Hi Isabelle - good question!

This might not be super helpful BUT in reality, most people have no idea what they want to do going into college, during college, after college, and even while working. I've come across so many people (including myself) who have shifted gears and switched jobs way beyond what you learn in school or what your college major was. Don't pressure yourself to figure it out before you go - use college as an opportunity to "test drive" a lot of different options by taking intro classes to things that seem cool to you. The thing I've found that helped me is to really think critically about what motivates you in a contextual way. Some common motivators: money, location, passion etc

If you are motivated by MONEY...
(which is not a bad thing!) You might consider state colleges or community college before a full time school. You also may want to explore realistic post-grad careers or industries that will get you in a high pay range (ex. high tech, finance, sales).

If you're motivated by LOCATION...
Either wanting to live in a specific place post-grad or staying close to home. If you know you want to move somewhere, you might consider going to college near that area. You will likely need to complete internships and get some work experience, so building ties in the community you want to contribute to can help you stand out in an interview. If you want to stay close to home, stay close to home! No shame in that but don't limit yourself to what else is out there, if you can, but everyone's situation is different.

If you're motivated by PASSION...
If a cause is really special to you, go for it! It could be healthcare, equality, entrepreneurship - whatever it is that makes you feel motivated you need to follow that pull. In college you can join clubs to explore interest, and if that club doesn't exist you can make one. For example, if healthcare and science is a motivator, check out if your college has clubs related to causes (ex. Colleges Against Cancer is the national club for the American Cancer Society).

You're asking all the right questions - all you can do is listen to yourself, believe in what you can bring to the table, and keep your ears open to opportunities around you.

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Ryan’s Answer

Explore all career options prior to attending school so you are confident you are making the best decision for you, at that time. You will also need to be flexible during your college life as your future career may change as you are exposed to new potential careers.

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Tammy’s Answer

Consider doing general courses at a community college. You can then transfer to a unviersity or 4 year college once you have decided on a major to pursue. Hopefully by working part time while at a community college you maybe able to be debt free for your first 2 years. Sometimes college is not always the best path, consider learning a trade. Often times learning a specific skill can be done in less than 4 years and then you can be on your way to earning a full time income quicker than going to school for 4 years.

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Vlad’s Answer

Companies don’t care what college you went to, what is your GPA, what your degree is in. They care about two things. Making money and saving money. Major in something that is hot and going to stay hot like IT. You want to clearly define what you want to do, and do not generalize yourself. Probably start exploring the industry you want to work in as whole, and patiently trying each individual sector in that industry to see what works best. Work hard and know your profession in and out. Get a good internship and use that to build your career from. Most importantly have a good network of people that help you and you help them.

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Jennifer’s Answer

Hi Isabelle,

Deciding what college to go to can be a very exciting time! For deciding what college to go to, I'd suggest doing some research online of places you'd like to consider. Once you've made a list, try visiting those colleges. You can take tours, ask current students what their experience is like and see if you feel it'd be a good fit for you. As for a major, a lot of colleges do make you declare a major prior to attending but it's important to remember you can always change your major if you decide one that you've chosen is not exactly what you'd like to anymore. Even with a change, you'll still gain valuable knowledge as well as it'll still be counted as part of your general education credits.

Jennifer recommends the following next steps:

Research Colleges Online
Talk with current students and take a campus tour

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Monique’s Answer

Your first 1-2 years will mostly be GE (General Education Courses) so you don't necessarily need to select your major right off the bat. Its a great opportunity to take an intro level course in something that you think you might be interested in, should you not be 100% certain.

I think it's important to explore what kind of work or opportunities your selected major will open up for you. While you might enjoy a certain subject, you might not enjoy the actual opportunities and work field. I would do some research and see where graduates of the selected major have ended up, what jobs they hold, and what work those jobs entail.

In regards to finance, apply for all of the grants available and fill out a FAFSA application. Grant money doesn't necessarily have to be paid back, like a loan. Look at interest rates, and consider if you will be working while going to school to see what you can put towards your loans should you take those out. Also, find out when you will have to start paying on those loans once you graduate.

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Nicole’s Answer

Today a lot of job require you to have a degree (i.e. Bachelors, Masters, etc...) but it does not specify a specific field. Having a degree is important to get your foot in the door. However, the field is not as important as the skills you learn in college.

I was accepted to university under their elementary school teaching program. After 2nd year, I realized I did not want to become an elementary school teacher. I spent my 3rd year of college exploring different majors and taking different classes feeling a bit lost when trying to figure out my next steps. In my 4th year of college, I knew I had to finish my teaching degree since I was very close and fortunately a majority of the classes I took during my soul searching 3rd year were transferable to my degree. I had to complete a 5th year of school to complete the remaining classes. However, I wish I knew to stay focus and finish what I started. Also, its not about the degree its about the skills you learned to earn the degree.

I am now working for a medical device company using my teaching skills to teach the business regulatory requirements. These requirements assist the team with design and development of the medical devices. The teaching skills allows me to teach regulatory bodies that we have designed and developed a safe and effective medical device.

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YongHui’s Answer

First of all, I don't have a full grasp of your situation, but if you are undecided, use your time wisely looking for opportunities to explore what you want to be in the future. During the last year of my high school I was in the same boat, asking these questions -

What if I pursue a career in this industry?
Why am I interested - for fun? for the money? for the humanity?
How am I going to achieve my goals?
How am I going to pay for college?

I ended up going to an engineering school because I was interested in rocket science. However, I also took into factor engineering college ranking & cost, so that I'll get the most out of what I'm investing in.

Once I was in college, I was shocked how easy it is to change majors and pursue a different career. I was also glad I came to a school with good ranking overall in engineering. For the first two years you'll be taking mostly the same classes with people with different majors. The important point here is that you have to go out to interact, learn, and engage in different activities and find what you really want to do. Keep asking the above questions.

I was able to finalize my thoughts after my Sophomore year and changed my major to Computer Science, for many reasons, I am very satisfied with where I am right now.

So the key take away from my advice is

1. Find what you want to do, apply for colleges with good efficiency. If really undecided, applying for a college with high ranking overall is not a bad idea. It doesn't have to be top tier, if cost is a matter, look into going to community college and transfer.
2. Engage in a lot of different activities during college. You'll be able to define your goals and even gain experiences that you can put on your resume.
3. Enjoy college

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Hugo’s Answer

Dear Isabelle,

It is common to have this kinds of enquries,I think everyone does before going to university, so do I. As a person who has had this experiences, I can provide you some advises.

1.Passion
First of all, it is important to follow your heart to choose your major in college, one of the options is to study something which relate to your passion. For example if you love cooking, you might think about culinary as you major. It is because choose the things which you love to study, is benefit to you in 4 years college life and be more significant. Moreover, it is benefit to increase your motivation to gain knowledges if your major is related to your passion.

2.Career
Secondly, your future career path is one of the important component that you need to think about it before you make the decision. So many people choose their occupation might not be the same with their major. Therefore, they might think that the college life was useless or regret their choice. Therefore, it is important to think about your future career.

3.Personal character/skills/personality
It it very similar as our passion, before you pick your own major, please go back to your personalities and what kind of future to want to be. For example, if you are very sensitive about numbers, accounting or Finance might be the best choice for you.

4.Have fun
Last but not least, the most important component is to enjoy the university life, no matter what the major you choose, you will train up your self characteristic, personal skills, personality,

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Carissa’s Answer

Three things come to mind when reading this question:

1. PLEASE do NOT feel pressured to have a major picked out right from the start. Having an idea of an industry or field is fine, but try not to pigeonhole yourself from the beginning. Be open to exploring. My boyfriend had his major picked out from the beginning, and he was so focused on trying to graduate early that when he realized he didn't actually like what he was studying, he felt it was too late to change (it wasn't.) He hated his classes and didn't perform well, and even had to extend his stay by a year instead of graduating early. You'd much rather put in the work at the beginning to find what you truly want to do than be stuck in a field that you can't imagine yourself in.

2. Choosing a major is not the only thing that defines what your career will be in the future. I studied Finance and Accounting, but someday I hope to run my own business. I just knew that finance would give me a solid background in business and help improve my chances of success when I decide to pursue entrepreneurship.

3. You won't love every class you take in your major. You will actually despise some of them and think that you want to drop out. When this happens, try to be honest with yourself. Is it just a small part of the field of study that you don't have to work in in the future? Is it just a gen ed requirement you need to get out of the way? Is the professor not a good teacher? If these are the case, don't swear off your major just yet. If you hate something fundamental and unavoidable about the field, then maybe its not for you. Constantly check in with yourself and be honest. It's okay to change, its okay to stay. There is NO one right answer and I swear no one is going to judge you either way. People are way too concerned with themselves in college to care what other people are doing.

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Daniel’s Answer

One of the best things you can do when choosing a major is to try and get some experience working in that field. In many cases, a high school internship can provide you with a taste of what your life would be like if you pursued that field before spending four or more years in college. As others have mentioned, the first two years of college are more or less the same regardless of your major, so it's important to spend this time trying as many things as possible to get a good sense of what you find interesting and might want to pursue as a major.

In my own journey, one thing I wish I knew is that a lot of top schools have excellent financial aid programs that provide full rides in many cases. For example, Harvard provides free attendance for 20% of its students (https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/why-harvard/affordability). This means that you should be focused more on finding the best school to learn what you want to learn, and less on affordability or what you think you can get into.

If internships aren't possible and you're still not sure what major you'll pick or what school you want to attend, there are also many free online educational resources, like Coursera and Udacity, that can give you a glimpse into different fields with very little upfront time required. You might even decide to attend a reputable online school, which can open up many opportunities to pursue work in different cities or even countries. For my graduate program, I attended the Harvard Extension School from my home in Portland, Oregon, and had classmates from around the world.

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Katherine’s Answer

I think the same procedures can be applied whenever you have to make a big decision in your life, especially in relation to choosing your major in college, or figuring out what career path is the best fit for you. I think it's important to build bottom up instead of top down. What i mean by that is instead of trying to follow the expected path and mold yourself to fit that, it helps to write down a list of the things you like and don't like when in relation to the decision you're trying to make (ie your major), and then looking at your options. I feel this helps remove outside bias from family or friends, or just preconceived notions about what you are supposed to do.

I definitely didn't put much thought into my major, I just kind of followed what my family and friends expected i would do. While it did work out well, I definitely wish i had put some more thought into my coursework because now I really wish I could go back into a class room setting and take some of the courses i always thought i would have taken if I wasn't a business major. For example, I am really interested in fitness and nutrition, but I thought i had to just treat that as a side interest, instead of incorporating it into my formal education. I definitely have foregone amazing resources that were available to me while I was at school. I can still learn the things I want to learn, it is a bit more difficult now because I work full time.

In the decisions I make now, I try to be more thoughtful and introspective. I physically take out a pen and paper and write a list of things I like and things I don't like as it relates to the decision I'm trying to make, and then go out and look at my choices only after i've spent time alone with myself (aka working from the bottom up, not the top down).

Hope this helps!

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Cristina’s Answer

Hi Isabelle!

Glad to know you are here and looking for answers to your questions. As a high school senior, I wish I paid more attention to the financial packages that schools were offering before deciding on what school to attend. I went to a four-year university after high school but ended up going to community college after the first school year for financial and personal reasons. Community college changed my life because it is there where I figured out I wanted to become a college counselor when I took a career exploration course. You have many options :) I suggest you take career assessments to learn about careers that match your interests and abilities. I will add some links for you to check out on the optional next steps. They include personality tests, strength finder assessments, and where to find career information. Good luck! :)

Cristina recommends the following next steps:

https://www.strengthsquest.com/
https://www.truity.com/
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/

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kristal’s Answer

Firstly, I will base on my passion to choose the major and also the location of the college.

I though the moment of the college must be the most happiest in life. what to do is just enjoy and have fun for it.

Studying is important but meanwhile I suggest you can join kinds of activities you are interest in.

Enjoy the college life!

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Steve’s Answer

I think that college is a place that you should go to with an open mind with the goal of exploring different academic programs. Successfully making it through college has little to do with your major and what they actually teach you. College is a place where you learn how to learn, where you learn how to make your own decisions, and a place where you learn to work ad appreciate others from a variety of backgrounds and interest. I wish I would have thought more about these things prior to entering college. I wish you the best.

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John’s Answer

My one regret about school was not starting sooner. I wish I would have gone straight into my quest for higher learning right after high school instead of waiting a little. I did not apply to any schools or put any thought into it until it was too late.

I was financially prepared but I don't thin i was as emotionally prepared to juggle school and work at the same time while also trying to maintain a social life. Once you get into school, make sure you take time out for yourself from your busy schedule to release some stress and to maintain your relationships with your friends and family.

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Adam’s Answer

I knew my major before starting college so I was lucky in that respect. The one thing I wished I looked into further was the availability of the type of job I was looking for. Not all job types are in demand in all areas.
Once you have a good idea of what job you want, do some research into the abundance of that job in your area. In my case it would have required that I move pretty far from my family which I was not prepared to do. I hope this helps.

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Austin’s Answer

It is ok if you don't know. I didn't declare a major until my sophomore year. I initially thought pre-med and ended up graduating with a degree in business and landing jobs with large corporations. Once I had my foot in the door I was able to find different career path options within the company. I've since had experiences in manufacturing, distribution planning, inventory management and recently marketing. Even though I didn't pursue a career in medicine, I've been able to work for a company in the medical device industry that manufactures products that help save lives. Don't rush it, but also know that even when you pick something you're not locked in for life. Many people change career paths over time as interests change.

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Juliet’s Answer

I was confused about this question at your age. If I back to 16, a few question I would ask myself again for major deciding.
1. What am I interested?
2. What kind of job I will love to do it consistently over decades?
3. What I want to be?

I wish you can find the way you love.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Isabelle,

The one thing that I didn't know that I wish I could have changed would have been community college classes. I would have gone back to my senior year and enrolled in some of the entry level classes for my desired university. These count as credits, are often cheaper, and would have allowed me to pursue other elective classes.

Thanks,
Blake

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Douglas’s Answer

I was like you when I was in HS and approaching some critical decisions. Pursue a major that fits who you are and your strengths, Suggest you complete the Strength Finder survey because the results of this survey will help identify your top strengths and careers that would be a good fit. This could help you make decision on what to major in. Good luck!

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Victoria’s Answer

If you have the desire and opportunity to live/study abroad (or away from home), do it.
Where you go to school makes a difference. If you have the financial means, choose the most prestigious. The institution listed on your resume and the circle you meet will have a long standing impact on your career.

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Schuyler’s Answer

I go to a liberal arts college which means I really got to explore to find out what I wanted to study. Even though I was given this academic freedom, I entered my first year of college with a firm idea of what I wanted my major to be. I was so sure of it that I didn't realize until a year later that I was more passionate about other subjects. My advice to my past self and to you, is to be open-minded and take your time! Good luck!

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Bashayir’s Answer

I wish I had a better perspective and knowledge about the different types of jobs that people end up taking after completing the exact same degree and field of study.

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Victoria’s Answer

If you have the desire and opportunity to live/study abroad (or away from home), do it.
Where you go to school makes a difference. If you have the financial means, choose the most prestigious. The institution listed on your resume and the circle you meet will have a long standing impact on your career.

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Jackie’s Answer

As a high schooler, there are a lot of aspects of life that you haven't seen. You likely have never had an interaction with businesses that work with businesses- and most of your experience has been around businesses that focus on consumers. Your first 2 years are mostly generic classes- use that time to get exposure to new areas and opportunities so you can make a choice that's right for you with more education to back your decision.

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Casey’s Answer

GREAT question. This is something I wish I had asked other before I went to college!

First, I would start by assessing what your real passions are. Think about what brings you true joy in life. Eventually you will find something that can bring you happiness and be a viable career.

Second, don't be so hard on yourself. You can change your major once you get to college - you may take a class and realize that it's just not a good fit for you! Switching majors does not make you a failure, it makes you self aware for realizing what is and what isn't for you.

Last, have fun with it. If you really don't know what to do, just go to general studies and pick classes that peak your interest - you are bound to find something from there.

I wish you the best of luck on your college journey!! Have fun!

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Ryan’s Answer

Explore all career options prior to attending school so you are confident you are making the best decision for you, at that time. You will also need to be flexible during your college life as your future career may change as you are exposed to new potential careers.

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Geoffrey’s Answer

I would strongly suggest looking majors that have any type of professional aspect to them. While history, philosophy, and political science can be interesting, their practical application to the job market are very limited. Any science-based major is preferable to a general major as well as any business major with a focus on a particular part of commerce is critical too. You can always take more theoretical courses later on or as a minor.

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Abbey’s Answer

I think it is very important to be realistic in what you want in a career.

There should be a balance of passion for the industry/job, and an understanding of the cost it will take to earn the credentials to get there. From cost of living in the area you want to live, to the projected salary for a entry level position. Be prepared to take a hard look on what you may earn in your career of choice.

For me, I did not know what I wanted to do. I started as an education major, because I knew what that job would look like. Realized I did not want to be a teacher based off of projected salaries, and that my passion for it would not balance out that salary. I moved to a Communications major, knowing that I was not "locking myself in" to a specific job.


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Melinda’s Answer

I went to a great college for undergrad school and I had a lot of fun in my major, but what I wish I had considered more carefully when choosing my major is "What kind of job can I get with this major?" I probably should have also thought more carefully about "What school has the majors that can lead to the type of job I would like to target?" It took me awhile (3 degrees/3 schools) to actually pinpoint my career. I love learning, so I don't feel like I wasted my efforts, but I could have been more efficient (and spent less of mine and my parents' money) if I had thought more carefully about the end goal.

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Mary’s Answer

You don't need to know what you want to do right away. When I went to college, I planned on majoring in hospitality management. When I got there, I realized that there was no math in my schedule. I love math! I decided to switch to engineering because I felt it complimented my skill set more than my original major did. That is completely fine and normal. It's difficult to know what you want to do with the rest of your life when you are 17 or 18 years old. Take some classes and see what you're really drawn to, what you find fascinating and enjoy doing.

Also, get involved as much as you can. It's easy to get lost at a large university when you aren't plugged in. I am a firm believer that you will get out of college what you put into it. So get involved, meet new people, try new things, and have fun!

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Anna’s Answer

Something I wished I would have figured out before graduating high school is to not let anyone influence your decision in what to major in. By no means does this mean to completely ignore their suggestions - I would take their suggestion as a grain of salt, because you need to focus more on what YOU want to do in the future to help you decide what major will help get you there. You will hear a lot of people talk about what they think you should do or sometimes even ridicule you for majoring in something they do not believe will make good money.

In short, listen to YOUR voice. Let your voice guide you. Don't get confused by all the other voices and opinions that will be thrown at you. I cannot stress this enough.

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Nicole’s Answer

Today a lot of job require you to have a degree (i.e. Bachelors, Masters, etc...) but it does not specify a specific field. Having a degree is important to get your foot in the door. However, the field is not as important as the skills you learn in college.

I was accepted to university under their elementary school teaching program. After 2nd year, I realized I did not want to become an elementary school teacher. I spent my 3rd year of college exploring different majors and taking different classes feeling a bit lost when trying to figure out my next steps. In my 4th year of college, I knew I had to finish my teaching degree since I was very close and fortunately a majority of the classes I took during my soul searching 3rd year were transferable to my degree. I had to complete a 5th year of school to complete the remaining classes. However, I wish I knew to stay focus and finish what I started. Also, its not about the degree its about the skills you learned to earn the degree.

I am now working for a medical device company using my teaching skills to teach the business regulatory requirements. These requirements assist the team with design and development of the medical devices. The teaching skills allows me to teach regulatory bodies that we have designed and developed a safe and effective medical device.

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Elyssa’s Answer

That getting a degree at all and as quickly as possible is the most important thing, what major you select matters more initially but less and less the longer you are in your career.

Employers want to know that you have a baseline of knowledge covering diverse topics (required in the first 2 years of college) and will stick through something and see it through. I do even if you have to live at home or get a side job or take out a small loan, that getting through as quickly as possible is important. I had a friend that didn't want to take on any debt at all so she could only take 1 class at a time while she worked full time. It took her 10 years to graduate. While she graduated with no debt, she also entered her field 6 years behind those who graduated earlier meaning she had not had the pay raises and promotions and experience they had. She has now been very successful for many years but would have been in a different place if she had taken on a small amount of debt. I'm not advocating for taking on a ton of debt (huge fan of Junior Colleges!), but try to get through sooner rather than later and realize there is a trade off.

I got a degree in psychology from a school known for "throwing parties". Instead of going directly to graduate school, I got a job in sales. From there I took side classes (expensive but getting a certification in a technical skill in 1-2 weeks) and looked for volunteer/education opportunities to end up in a very technical role normally reserved for those with Computer Science degrees. I've now been deep in technology for well over 20 years and nobody cares about my degree...they care about my experience.

I've never had a job interview where someone didn't mention that I went to a "party school". I made a point of letting them know I went to that school because it was in a small town where I would feel comfortable, not for the partying, but everyone I know who has graduated from that school has been very successful. Because it turns out that having strong communication skills and the ability to get along with others is so critical to success these days!

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Theodore’s Answer

I think the biggest thing I wish I knew was how large of an impact where you go to school geographically can have on your experience. It's important to think about your hobbies and how that will translate to wherever you decide to live. If you're really into hiking and camping you might want to think about going out to the west coast rather than the midwest.

I think it's also important to enjoy high school before you go off to high school. College is a big transition and high school represents a big change in how you go about your day. Good luck!

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Peter’s Answer

I don't think you have to know anything, and I don't think you should expect yourself to know much heading into one of the most educational periods in your life. I think you have to want to learn, and be prepared to ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers with an open mind...

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Gary’s Answer

I was a History and Political Science major in college and I work in banking. My point is your major doesn't always impact your career directions or opportunities. If you want to be a doctor or engineer there are some obvious pre-requisites but there are more CEOs who were English and liberal arts majors during undergrad than business majors.

My biggest piece of advice is to get involved on your college campus and try new things. You never know what organizations or network may spark a new passion or lead you into a new career direction.

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Douglas’s Answer

I was like you when I was in HS and approaching some critical decisions. Pursue a major that fits who you are and your strengths, Suggest you complete the Strength Finder survey because the results of this survey will help identify your top strengths and careers that would be a good fit. This could help you make decision on what to major in. Good luck!

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Austin’s Answer

It is ok if you don't know. I didn't declare a major until my sophomore year. I initially thought pre-med and ended up graduating with a degree in business and landing jobs with large corporations. Once I had my foot in the door I was able to find different career path options within the company. I've since had experiences in manufacturing, distribution planning, inventory management and recently marketing. Even though I didn't pursue a career in medicine, I've been able to work for a company in the medical device industry that manufactures products that help save lives. Don't rush it, but also know that even when you pick something you're not locked in for life. Many people change career paths over time as interests change.

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Sean’s Answer

1) Understand what you are interested in AND what the job market and salaries are for professionals with that background. I have met many people who majored in the first thing they were interested in only to switch majors at the 11th hour once they realized job prospects and potential to earn a good salary did not look good.

2) If you plan on switching make sure your initial declaration makes sense. I got into college as an engineering major and planned to transfer to the business school after the first year. It didn't end up like that but engineering is a good place to fall back on. Also there is always that possibility to go to grad school in the future.

3) In addition to what you are interested in, think about what you are good at. I knew people in engineering who were really interested in it, but were not that good at getting the work done. They ended up spending years well beyond the typical 4, and eventually dropped it to do other things

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Adam’s Answer

I knew my major before starting college so I was lucky in that respect. The one thing I wished I looked into further was the availability of the type of job I was looking for. Not all job types are in demand in all areas.
Once you have a good idea of what job you want, do some research into the abundance of that job in your area. In my case it would have required that I move pretty far from my family which I was not prepared to do. I hope this helps.

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Ai’s Answer

I wish I knew that I don't need to rush. When I first got to college, I felt like I was the only person on campus who did not have a plan or a major that I wanted to pursue. Thus, I rushed my decision when choosing my major and classes. Because of this, I took so many different classes my freshmen year that I did not join any clubs. I wish that I knew that I had the time to join multiple clubs and take classes that I found interesting.

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Anna’s Answer

Something I wished I would have figured out before graduating high school is to not let anyone influence your decision in what to major in. By no means does this mean to completely ignore their suggestions - I would take their suggestion as a grain of salt, because you need to focus more on what YOU want to do in the future to help you decide what major will help get you there. You will hear a lot of people talk about what they think you should do or sometimes even ridicule you for majoring in something they do not believe will make good money.

In short, listen to YOUR voice. Let your voice guide you. Don't get confused by all the other voices and opinions that will be thrown at you. I cannot stress this enough.

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Ai’s Answer

I wish I knew that I don't need to rush. When I first got to college, I felt like I was the only person on campus who did not have a plan or a major that I wanted to pursue. Thus, I rushed my decision when choosing my major and classes. Because of this, I took so many different classes my freshmen year that I did not join any clubs. I wish that I knew that I had the time to join multiple clubs and take classes that I found interesting.

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Jason’s Answer

Hi Isabelle. I graduated college exactly 10 years ago from now and if there one thing I can tell you before deciding your major is to go into a field which will allow you accumulate experience and then excel, not something that is too time sensitive. Of course law and medicine would be a great major for any bright mind but if you are into certain fields such as arts, mechanic, interior design, and etc these are some professions which will be great for the long run even when there is an economic downturn.


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Luis’s Answer

Hi!

One thing I would have enjoyed knowing when I went to college/university is just the wide variety of majors there is. There is mayors just really just about anything and going into college I had an idea of what I wanted and once I started, my majors would change. But even so, I also found out how easy it was to double major. However, when deciding your major I would suggest that you think about what you like doing this can be as a job, hobby, etc. Essentially, what you like and what you will be interested in will help you stick with your major and not want to change your major throughout your time.

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