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Is it okay to choose a major without being sure what career I want to pursue?

Office Hours #2: SDSU College Student Panel

This question was posed by a question during one of our most recent "CareerVillage Office Hours" sessions. During Office Hours sessions, we invite students to pose questions related to a specific topic. In this case, the topic was college life. If you answer this question, we will reach out to the students who attended this office hours session to inform them of your response, and all students on CareerVillage will benefit. If you would be interested in hosting an office hours session on a particular topic, please reach out to our staff!

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Chirayu’s Answer

In my personal opinion, I think it is perfectly okay to choose a major without being sure what career you want to pursue. In fact, many students enter college unsure about their career goals and use their time in school to explore their interests and discover what they're passionate about. Choosing a major does not necessarily lock you into a specific career path, and many people end up pursuing careers that are unrelated to their college major. A major can provide you with a foundation of knowledge and skills in a particular subject area, but it's important to keep in mind that your major is just one part of your education and professional development. So, while it's important to consider your career goals when choosing a major, it's also important to keep an open mind and be willing to explore different paths and opportunities. If you're unsure about your major or career goals, it's recommended that you take advantage of career counseling and job shadowing opportunities, as well as seeking out internships and other experiences that can help you gain exposure to different industries and careers.
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Rachel’s Answer

Hello!

It's absolutely okay to declare your major without knowing what your future career will be. I was a declared English major and I didn't know what my future career would be. You learn as you go through your courses that they teach many skills that can translate into various future careers. I agree with the previous answer to get to know the professors within your department, particularly those who teach many of the classes you've especially enjoyed. They can be a wealth of knowledge about other careers that your major can translate to. Enjoy your classes and you will learn what aspects of the subject you like and which you don't.
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Lynette’s Answer

When choosing your major, you should choose something you're interested in, if you don't know what career you want to pursue. At the end of the day, you want your career to be something you enjoy. Therefore, if you major in something that follows that same idea, it will hopefully lead to the right career path for you. You will learn so much through each and every course you take. Your major also won't decide your career path in the long-term because there will always be room for you to find something better suited for your abilities.
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Ethan’s Answer

Hello!
It is more than okay to major in a subject that may not completely line up with what you want to do in the future. There are definitely different ways to tackle college, but when it comes to your major, you are learning essential skills in whatever you decide to study. Critical thinking, ethics and decision-making, learning the importance of research. Those are some key pieces that everyone learns in college regardless of major. One of the best methods that have seen from some of my peers is finding out how you can somewhat tie-in your major into what you wish to pursue in the future. Even if does not align with your career path at all, there is always a way for you take what you have learned in your field and apply to the next direction you go in. Right now, I am currently going to school for film, but I'm looking at a career in event planning. By being a film student, I learn how to work in teams and how to plan productions and organizing a lot of people. Those skills I am learning there, I know that I can take that into being an event planner. So really just take your interests and run in full stride in any direction you go in after, because it will work itself out.
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi,

I would say that the answer is yes. Oftentimes, as you work through your major, various jobs will be presented to you. It will be important that you consider the skills needed for that major so that you are sure to be happy enough to graduate. For example, a person who doesn't like writing probably shouldn't be an English or someone who struggles with high school math classes shouldn't be a math major. It is important to know what you like and don't like. You are not going to like everything about any given job. There are some things that I don't like about my job. However, the big things, the major skills that I need are things that I love to do. Some majors have such a variety of jobs that you could do that college actually helps you decide. I think about Computer Science. You can use as a teacher, software developer, web developer, engineer, etc.

Gloria
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Melissa’s Answer

Hi! Yes absolutely. I changed my major 3 times throughout my college career because I kept finding other topics that interested me. When I graduated, I wanted to go into healthcare. However, I ended up finding an amazing job in finance. You never know what opportunities are ahead and it is okay to not be 100% sure. As long as you have a positive attitude and a strong work ethic, you will succeed in any career you choose to pursue. I am 25 and still figuring out what I want to be! I recommend exploring a lot in your early years. Enjoy the journey!
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Jatu’s Answer

Absolutely. I would actually recommend that you speak with your college advisor. When I was in college, I had no idea which direction I wanted to go after picking my major. That very feeling had me uneasy as I got through my classes. What helped me through that was getting involved with an internship that my college advisor recommended. Those internships provided me with the relationships I needed for mentors within my field. They guided me throughout my last year of college and recommended different career choices that would benefit me based on what I liked. You’re not always going to know what you’re going to do once you graduate from college and that’s okay. Just know that the relationships you build while working with your college advisors or even mentors will set you up for a successful future. Sometimes we don’t always work in the field that we think based on our degree and again that too is okay. As long as you love what you do that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
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Kristen’s Answer

This is a great question and one that I thought about when going to school. Most people do not know what they want to do with their life at 18 years old and so it is completely fine to pursue a major you're interested in without knowing what exactly you want to do. I think this is the beauty of the liberal arts majors (English, Communications, History, Politics etc.) because they are broad enough to use these skills to pivot into a variety of careers. While you take classes in your major begin to think about how these classes might apply to certain career paths and pursue internships to help figure out your interests. Internships and even volunteer opportunities are a great way to rule out the things you do not enjoy which I know sounds unorthodox but it can be really helpful as you think about what is next for you. I have done a few internships where I realized this was not the career path I wanted and it helped me narrow down my options. At the end of the day, college is great place for exploration. Take classes that interest you and see what sticks. Talk to your career center and peers to see what a career might look like with your given major.

Kristen recommends the following next steps:

Ask people who graduated with your major about their career paths and roles they've pursued
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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi! I definitely think so; a lot of my classmates were unsure as well in their career choices. Along with the major you choose you will be taking many other general education classes that are required for each college student so these may help in giving you an idea. I would advise to also get to know your professors in your major courses and ask for them insight, there are many that are willing to help. I would also recommend to always speak with your adviser and keep your eyes out for career workshops/resume building workshops for students. They usually come as offers via your student email as they are set up by the school!

Best of luck!
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RAVI’s Answer

It is okay to declare a major or not declare a major and start college. Either way, as you get into the college and start engaging with staff, students and other forums, you will learn a lot more about opportunities, careers and more importantly about yourself.

If you decide to declare a major, try to declare it is somewhat of a related field. For e.g: Declaring a major in performing arts may not help you to lean towards a career in health sciences or major in Biology may not be helpful if you are interested in electronics and telecommunications.

If you go with not declaring a major to start may be a good option. First two years in college usually focused on getting through the more core courses and you can use this time to test and feel the field of interest to you taking a course in them and decide. You can declare the major by the end of 2 years.

Either way, please work with the college and your councilor from day 1 to discuss and plan these things constantly.
Best of Luck!
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