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What research should I be doing if I cannot figure out what I want to major in?


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John’s Answer

I completely understand Sophia

It's one of the first big independent decisions of your academic life. Most likely your parents have hammered into you, choosing a major in college is an important decision. It's important to listen to your parents' concerns and advice. However, it's important for you to remember it's ultimately your major. You will have to do the work and ultimately leverage that major as you transition into the workforce.

WHEN DO YOU HAVE TO DECLARE YOUR MAJOR

Generally at most four-year colleges you don’t have to decide on a major until the end of your sophomore year. This gives you time to try a couple of classes and see what you like before you decide, and earn general education credits that count toward your degree. Keep in mind, certain fields and programs require an early commitment so you can take all the required classes and graduate on time.

FOUR STEPS TO PICKING YOUR MAJOR

STEP 1.) WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS – The first thing to consider when picking a major is what you like to do. By the time you graduate high school you’ll have enough information and experience from your classes to figure out what you might or might not be interested in pursuing.

STEP 2.) LIST 10 THINGS YOU LOVE – Listing what you love doing, both inside or outside the classroom, is a great way to see possible paths you can take. If you enjoy art and drawing but you’re also interested in technology, consider majoring in graphic design. If you’re into business and traveling, investigate majoring in international business.

STEP 3.) STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES – Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses can help you assess what kind of major to go into. For example, if public speaking isn’t really your thing, you might want to avoid majors that could lead to careers like being a news anchor or spokesperson. You can also take your weaknesses and build on them in college. If public speaking is something you want to improve, go ahead and take a speech class. You might love it!

STEP 4.) CONNECT THE DOTS – One of the most essential factors in selecting a career path is to choose a job that aligns with your interests and talents. Before you decide to embark on a career path that you think you will love, you need to consider other factors. For example, if you love to travel, you may think you would enjoy a career in which traveling is a part of your job. And while that may sound initially exciting and adventurous, you may grow tired of sleeping in hotels and living out of suitcases.

FOUR STEPS IN CREATING YOUR CAREER GOALS

After digging into what you’re interested in and potential careers options, it’s time to think about your goals and your future career—and how easy or how hard it might be to find employment. If you have a specific career goal in mind, you might need to pick your major or program in advance, sometimes as early as when you’re applying to college. It’s also good to know what degree you’ll need for the field that interests you.

STEP 1.) SEEK OUT ADVICE – The best source of college advice is your school counselor. They’ve helped lots of students who are making the same decisions you are. Your school counselor can tell you more about college majors and program offerings. You can also reach out to professionals working in the field you’re interested in. They can talk to you about how they got from college to where they are now. Whether they’re your parents, guardians, family members, or people you interact with professionally, set up a time to interview them. Be prepared with a set of questions to ask.

STEP 2.) NETWORKING – You can use LinkedIn to research companies, industries and opportunities that relate to your degree. After identifying a few occupations that are of interest, you can now look at which industries you would like to work within on LinkedIn. You can then connect with them to find out more information about their jobs, industry or company by reading their LinkedIn profiles or by arranging an informational interview. Comparing occupational outcomes and salaries across different industries may help you to focus your career goals even further.

STEP 3.) EXAMINE THE JOB OUTLOOK – The job outlook for your chosen career path is another important factor that must be researched. You don’t want to choose a profession that may become extinct in the next few years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying careers – which have a median annual salary of well over $200,000 – are surgeons, orthodontists, chief executives, dentists and judges. At the other end of the spectrum, bakers, childcare workers, cooks, cashiers and floral designers earn a median annual salary that is less than $25,000.

STEP 4.) JOB SHADOWING – If you know someone who is already working in the career you are interested in, interview that person. This is a great way to research careers you may be interested in. Ask what they like and what they don’t about the career field. It’s also a good idea to ask their advice when starting out in the career field and what employers are looking for. A bonus would be to ask if you can shadow them at work one day.

Remember Sophia, though this is an important decision, it is not etched in stone. If you start taking classes within your major and find you’re not enjoying them, switch classes or start trying classes in another major immediately. In fact, about two-thirds of undergraduates switch their major at least once, so keep that in mind as you take classes your first year.

Hope this was Helpful Sophia

Thank you Libby for all your Support. “Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and peaceful place.” — Natalie Portman John Frick

Thank You Marina. “The broadest, and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering: Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good. ” – Ivan Scheier John Frick

Thank You Lia. “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

Thank you so much for the advice! Sophia D.

Your Welcome Sophia, It was my Pleasure. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible” John Frick

Thank You Wes. “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck John Frick

Thank You Monika. “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” — Helen Keller John Frick

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Margaret’s Answer

The best research you can do is "field" research i.e try everything. It's one thing to read about a major and another thing to actually take classes for it. When I started college, I had absolutely 0 idea about what I wanted to major in. My first year of college, I took every class I could that would expose me to each area of majors (art, politics, math, English, science, history, technology, etc.) that still fulfilled my gen-eds and I didn't repeat any of the areas during that year. After my first year of college doing that method, I assessed the classes I had taken and I knew what fueled my fire. I ended up with two majors I otherwise may have never considered but I am so passionate about and have lead me to my dream job.

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Monika’s Answer

Hi Sophia,

You've gotten tons of good advice so far, so I will only reiterate a few things here:

1. Don't rush into a major - as noted by others, you usually don't have to declare a major as soon as you start school, so take time to explore classes that interest you (in addition to your required core classes) for the first year at least.

2. Don't be hard on yourself if you start with one major and switch to another. It happens all the time (it's quite common, actually), and if it moves you in the direction you want to go, that's all that matters. No learning is ever wasted.

3. If you DO find yourself leaning towards a particular major, see if your school's career development office can help you set up information interviews with working professionals who have the same major and are working in that field. That's a great way to gauge if a potential major might be a good fit for your long-term career interests.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!

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Lorena’s Answer

First of all, most universities in the US allow for students to start with an undeclared major. Hence, if you truly want to, you could start at any school with an undecided major and experiment, with no consequences.

Nevertheless, It is always a good idea to know what area of study you're interested in, and the best way to do that is through research. What do you like to do? What are you good at? For example, do you like working with people? In what setting do you like doing this? Would you like to have an office job? Or do something more active? Are you Artsy? ….

The best to start your search is to be introspective and decide what you think your strength and weaknesses are. If you need a little help with this, then I highly suggest you try an online career test. These exams are usually free, and give you scenarios where you can state whether or not you would like to do something like the scenario in your future.



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Shruti’s Answer

I see you got a lot of good advise so I am not going to repeat it again. Just want to say that don't be hard on yourself while making overwhelming decisions and remember to learn everyday and love yourself.

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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Sophia!

I suggest thinking about your passions and interests then researching types of careers you could transition into. I personally changed my major, I started with Communications and moved to Sociology once I realized the broader industries I could apply my skills and interests in. I never planned on becoming a sociologist/psychologist, but I loved learning about people and connections and ended up having a career in recruiting. Also, my younger sister went through a few changes herself as she re-discovered her true passions - she started undeclared, then interior design, and ultimately landed in photography with a minor in green sustainability. Once you identify your passions and interests, take a look at your schools programming and see if there's any clubs or groups you can join and if those tie into any specific majors and departments. I also suggest searching on Google or LinkedIn different job titles or people you look up to for inspiration :) As cheesy as it sounds, follow your heart and you can always change your major at a later time or switch it to a minor :)

Thank you so much for the advice Nicole! Sophia D.

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Katrina’s Answer

You've already got a lot of great advice here. My add is to say that you have time...I majored in History and Government and ended up working in account management and then HR - so there is some flexibility in major and your career. Talk to people in jobs that are of interest to you, take classes in different schools at you college Freshman year to learn about different majors and visit Academic Advising and talk to classmates. Enjoy the discovery path!

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Natasha’s Answer

If your are currently enrolled in college:
Include the humanities (philosophy, sociology, psychology, english literature, theatre) and the sciences (calculus, physics, chemistry, biology) in your coursework, regardless of major ultimately selected. These subject matters will provide a solid educational foundation for continuous learning and critical thinking beyond the classroom and college.


If you're not yet enrolled in college:
Consider taking the courses that I mentioned above and do plan to speak with a career counselor once you are on campus (Career Development Office) about what your aspirations are (for instance, discuss why you decided to go to college; what do you hope to contribute to the classroom, your classmates or your community?). Even on your first semester, it is not too early to find out where your guidance counselor or career coaches work on campus.

Whether or not you are enrolled in college:
Consider learning a couple of software development/coding languages (after doing research about the most practical or on-demand coding languages). There are some open/free courses online that provide the foundations for neophytes. Take Statistics before or during your studies.


Talk with your parents and don't put too much pressure on choosing a major from Day 1 of college. It does make sense though to think about what type of work you would like to do after college and narrow it down from research on industries, your talents and dreams. Additionally, the future of work entails career change (switch of sector) at least once after college. Hence, you might end up working in a field that you never imagined you would during school. Remain flexible and agile in your career strategy.

Keep learning and stay well,
Natasha

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Gemma’s Answer

Dear Sophia,

One thing you can do is think of something you are interested in, good at and passionate about, including your strengths/weaknesses, and likes/dislikes and take courses relative to those passions. You can also reach out to a career counselor to see if there are any career assessments you can take where you can learn about your skills are and what careers are linked to those skills. If you are concerned about choosing a major for classes to take, most colleges let you become undeclared major and you can take the general classes needed to graduate for the time being until you know what major to choose.

Another thing you can do is explore and do informational interviews with people on what they do and where they work to see if their career catches your attention. You can also join clubs and social activities on campus, or do any volunteer work that catches your interest and if you end up enjoying what the subject is about, then maybe, you'll want to major in something relative to that subject and find a career path. Once you have a decided major you can talk to an academic advisor about your career path and the next steps to guide you.

I hope this helps!

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jamie’s Answer

Hello Sophia,

Thanks for your question.But I think the most important part of all, you need to figure out what you are interested in and what you are good at.

Try to find the skill that you have and it is the good way to help you make the decision easily.

College is a place that make you better prepared for work and learn more knowledge about your major,

and you will have more chances to get more different opinions from your classmates and friends.

So choose a major you really interested in then you will have passion in learning deeper, that makes you become professional in that area.

Try to know more about yourself first and enjoy your college life.

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Valentina’s Answer

Hello there!
I recommend you try getting a research position in something you find interesting. I know it sounds kind of obvious but it’s important to volunteer/intern/research in areas we are passionate about. I also recommend you take interesting summer courses in different disciplines. This will expose you to more options and perhaps you will find what it is you want to learn more about. Remember you can always change your major! Just try out different things

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Abhinav’s Answer

Hi Sophia, I would really suggest as other answers have stated to really reflect within and focus on what interests you. Then it becomes more about connecting what interests you to fields of study. Other factors also come into play such as career outlook, course of study, finances etc. For me personally I loved science and I was in the same boat as you going into college.I looked at various course catalogs of the courses that the university offered and the biology courses seemed very interesting to me. I decided I wanted to major in biology and eventually followed the pre-med pathway. It will definitely involve experimentation like taking classes that interest you and making mistakes but I have no doubt you will find a course of study that suits you best. Hopefully this helps!

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Lorena’s Answer

First of all, most universities in the US allow for students to start with an undeclared major. Hence, if you truly want to, you could start at any school with an undecided major and experiment, with no consequences.

Nevertheless, It is always a good idea to know what area of study you're interested in, and the best way to do that is through research. What do you like to do? What are you good at? For example, do you like working with people? In what setting do you like doing this? Would you like to have an office job? Or do something more active? Are you Artsy? ….

The best to start your search is to be introspective and decide what you think your strength and weaknesses are. If you need a little help with this, then I highly suggest you try an online career test. These exams are usually free, and give you scenarios where you can state whether or not you would like to do something like the scenario in your future.



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Dawn’s Answer

Hello,

I hope all is going well with you during these unusual times. very good question and I am thrilled to give you some advice that may help you decide how to pick a major. The steps I used to decide what I wanted to major in. I first thought about what I was interested in for example working in the medical field or a Lawyer just whatever you feel is important to you. I then researched what it would take for me to get my degree and the number of credit hours I would have to have to get the degree. Last but not least the amount of money you will make.

I hope these tips help you out with deciding on what you would like to major in.

Have a great day and stay safe!

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Patrice’s Answer

Most schools offer aptitude testing, and there are also some online sites that provide it as well. These tests will ask you questions about how you feel and think about things, and then provide you with suggestions for what interests you may want to pursue. Some of them are more focused on what kind of jobs you want, but you can still get some value from that if you find a job you think you might like and then take the classes that would be necessary for that job.

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Gabrielle’s Answer

The research I believe will help you the most is honestly sitting down and thinking about things you honestly like to do. Things like hobbies or subjects that you really enjoy in school already. Most people skip over their hobbies when trying to pick out what career path they want to go into, but hobbies are usually the most telling. Also, almost always, there are career fields/majors that aline with your hobbies or things you already enjoy. For instance, I love noticing trends, people watching and social media. Weird combination, I know, but that has lead me into social media marketing! I use all three to get the most use out of business using social media to engage with their audience. I also have loved drawing since I was a child, so on top of the marketing, I am able to help people come up with logos and post for their social media accounts. If you don't have hobbies or things you like to do already, the world is yours to explore. There is always something you can find to make you feel like you could do it for free because you love it so much. The best thing about that is, there is always a way to turn that thing into a career. Once you find that, you'll find your major and your career path.

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Linli’s Answer

Try to take courses in different fields, and find the one that you can do best. Usually people love to do what they can do well, and it will slowly become their passion.

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John’s Answer

Sophia,

Thankfully you have time. Even if you are enrolled in college classes now, you still have time to figure it all out. Take the first year to decide on what areas you have interest in and what you enjoy the least. It took me quite some time to figure out what I wanted in the beginning and switched degree plans a few times which caused me to take a few extra classes since degree plan requirements change over time. Take the time to sit down and dig down deep and consider what you want out of life and what energy you have to put towards it.

Just know that all of us here support you and your decisions and want the best for you. Good luck and we are all sure you will chose the degree plan for you!

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Jordan’s Answer

Hi Sophia,
For me personally, I found the best option was to explore jobs on campus or near campus - as well as getting involved with clubs. I joined our school newspaper and was pushed to grow and be challenged in new ways that I did not experience in my classes. So I think you should be open to exploring and ask to even shadow connections you may have to see what interests grow.
Additionally, I did not think I would like my first job out of college - I literally just said, "I don't care what this is, I need someone to hire me" and it ended up having many aspects that I enjoyed. (although the leadership was terrible) I was able to grow in new skills and find out things that I wanted in future positions.
Lastly, I would just say, to have courage and keep trying. Finding a full-time job after college can be difficult and interviewing can be draining, but if you keep a good perspective and always seek to want to learn more and do better no matter where you are - then you can do great things!
Wish you all the best!
Jordan

Jordan recommends the following next steps:

Keep asking questions
Saved!
Seek connections in things you're interested in
Saved!

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Savanna (Savi)’s Answer

Hi Sophia,

The best advice I received on this topic was to look at courses or professors that sound interesting and try out those classes. Most colleges/universities allow for you to have a variety of electives, so this would be a good way to try things out. One friend of mine decided on their major after building it around the professors they wanted to take more classes from. I will say I think your major doesn't matter as much as your experience. I got a degree in something completely different from where I work now. I loved my major, but didn't want to do a career in it (and I decided that senior year). That's totally ok!

Best of luck!

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Katya’s Answer

Hi Sophia, it’s normal that you experiencing all sort of uncertainties around choosing the career path for yourself.

First, focus on your strengths and weaknesses. The best suggestion I can give is by taking a pen and a paper -make two categories and start writing down- what it is you enjoy doing as a hobby and what it is you don’t.

Then, make a self evaluation about yourself- use the same method.

For the self evaluation- you can take online assessments , some offered for free and take a skill based test specifically about you and at the end you will receive an evaluation what the best suitable professions would be good for you.

After, you need to do some research around what’s offered to you and understand if these careers is something you see yourself doing.

Keep in mind, choosing a career has to be somewhere around your passion-because this is for a long time and you want to be happy, make progress, and look forward going to work and not the other way around. Because, at the end- it’s your health that matters and working in a stressful environment could become an u healthy path.

These are some of the research and cites you can use for your self evaluation:

Www.jobquiz.com/career-test

Careeronestop

Monster. Com-this is a job search cite and you can also find a free self assessments

Best of luck

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Simon’s Answer

Hi Sophia,

To build on other answers here, I would also stress the importance of exploration, self-discovery, and curiosity. Choosing a university/college path that allows room for that exploration may be key in your case. I recommend starting to think about the 'big' broad questions that might interest you and the species of research that sounds and feels most appealing to you at this stage. The same self-questioning can help you determine your major in future too e.g., what are you most curious about academically?; what do you feel are you greatest strengths in terms of work and study?; what subjects do you find yourself most enthusiastic about learning more about?; are there research discoveries that you have heard or read about that you find most fascinating?

You can start by casting a wide net to look at popular science, humanities, and arts research publications and journals to get a better sense of what's being published, looking through university department and institution research webpages, new articles, and so on. Highlight anything that you find particularly interesting and start asking yourself whether work in a related field might appeal to and interest you. Are you an analytical person?; do you like working collaboratively with people?; might you enjoy lab or field work?; are there specific social issues you think are particularly important? What new work experience might build on any you have had previously that you feel was particularly significant to you? All these types of questions can help you determine a research direction that might be a good fit.

Also remember that you are not alone. Many first- and second-year college students don't yet know the exact direction they want to head in yet. I have many conversations about possible academic and research paths, choices, and directional changes with undergraduates. The nature and timing of those decisions is personal and can take a while to work out. It's key to keep asking yourself what you want to do, are doing, and why, what you learning, and what opportunities might be available to you to help you know yourself and your interests better.

Hope that helps!

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Gonzalo’s Answer

The first thing you have to realize is that although this is indeed a very important decision in life, it doesn't mean that if you don't get it right at the beginning, you will be stuck with that decision forever.
Your decision should be guided through the following pillars:
1) What are the things you really enjoy doing?
2) What are the things you are really good at? what are your strengths?
3) what are the things you really don't enjoy doing?

Once you come up with your answers, I would strongly suggest to speak, read and get as close as you can to people that are doing those things that you've identified. Getting insights, testimonials from people that are already working in your field of interest can provide you with important information about their day to day lives. Ask them what is it that they enjoy most about what they do. It will help you connect the dots.

Finally, there are certain fields, like engineering and economics that have several disciplines in common and that will give you a set of tools that will be very helpful in a variety of professional careers.

The most important thing is to gain awareness about what you like and about your strengths. If you use these two pillars, you can't go wrong.

Gonzalo recommends the following next steps:

Identify what you truly enjoy doing
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Identify what are your strengths
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Look for people that are close to the things you like and are at good at, and try to understand their day to day lives, and what is they do.
Saved!

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