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How can you figure out what to major in if you’re not sure what area you’re interested in?

I’m a rising senior in high school and I want to study business but I’m not sure what area of business. For example, management or economics or complementing business with another STEM field. How do I figure this out before or during college? What are some tips for exploring different options? JULY20

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Sharon’s Answer

Like Alison mentioned you do not need to figure your whole life out before college! A lot of people in college switch their majors one or several times and that is completely okay. Depending on what your college offers, there may be an option to declare undecided major within the school of business. I know for my school, the first year freshman get to experience all of the different areas of business: management, economics, accounting, finance, and marketing. It is not until Junior year until people buckle down and declare a major. You can also minor in whatever you want so you can add that STEM component you mentioned.
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Alison’s Answer

Hi Lucy!

I think everyone experiences this same feeling at some point in their lives. Even adults can have that “what exactly is it that I want to do with my life?” sensation. For you, though, being a rising high school senior puts you in a great place! There are a few things for you to consider, and you have the time to do that:

1) You do NOT have to declare a major right away in college. Most schools will give you a year or sometimes two before you have to officially decide. That means you can take some classes focusing on different aspects of the business world and see what you like best. You could join some clubs, do some volunteering, or talk to other students to get a better feel for if you’re management material, or if economics is your deal, or if STEM or even something you haven’t even thought of yet(!) is right for you.

2) You have time to do some exploring, even now. Start looking for opportunities for yourself. Maybe there is a company you can volunteer at in your home town. Maybe you can find a summer internship. Maybe someone in your family or at your school knows someone with whom you could ask some questions about one of the specialities you’re interested in. Reach out wherever you can and explore wherever it’s possible.

3) Think - more deeply than usual - about you. What is it that draws you to management, or economics, or STEM? Can you envision yourself as successful in those fields? Do you have (or can you get) the skill set you’ll need to succeed there? This process of deliberate contemplation can help you see things more clearly sometimes. For example, with me, I hate math. There is no way economics will ever be my thing. I’m super introverty, so you’d think I’d shy away from management, but I’m also fairly intuitive so I actually enjoy managing people (most of the time) because I can tell pretty quickly how they’re going to fit together into that big picture of my team. If you’re not sure about all of your characteristics, ask the people who know you best. Sometimes it’s easier to hear what your friends and family think are your biggest strengths and weaknesses. If you haven’t taken something like a Myers-Briggs test in school, doing a free version online can help you figure this kind of stuff out too.

Finally, in case you didn’t catch it in the first paragraph: you have time. Take the pressure off of yourself in thinking you have to decide your entire future by tomorrow. You don’t. You don’t have to start college with a major declared, you don’t have to keep that major once you choose it, and you don’t have to keep your career once you begin it. Most people go through about 7 different career versions these days. So, take a breath and take the time to see what feels right for you.

Best wishes and good luck with your explorations!