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Soon to be college student.

How can I find the major I want?

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Subject: Career question for you

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6 answers


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Michelle’s Answer

Dear Haohua

This is a difficult question but indeed, a very important one as it shapes a large portion of your future.

As a young student I was passionate about drama and the arts. My parents dissuaded me from studying acting and finally, I completed 5 different degrees in various directions such as law, marketing, accounting and most graduates studies all leaving me, still, not satisfied because I missed pursuing my passion. In those days there were little opportunities in the arts in the country where I lived and their advice was with best interest at heart.

Knowing this I would advise my kids and yourself to look into what makes you passionate. What do you love doing, what do you constantly seek to know more about. What makes you smile when you think about that. Then, see if there are jobs that can combine those passions. For e.g. if you love anything tech, you write your own apps and can fix anyone's phone or PC because it comes naturally to you but people advise you to pursue medicine because you have good grades, think: Do I like to work with people, will I cringe at the sight of blood, am I really passionate about helping others or would I rather build something in my back yard like a robot. Then, follow your passion. Gain experience, do free youtube courses and talk to people who actually do the jobs you think about because it isn't always what you imagine it to be. Even if you don't love what they say about the actual job but you are still passionate about an industry like Tech in my example, pursue a broad entry level major in that field, you can later specialize.

I hope this helps!
Thank you comment icon I appreciate you taking the time to answer this. Haohua
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Christopher’s Answer

It depends on the person, but the best way to figure out what you enjoy is through practical experience. My major was undecided until my junior year, but during this time I explored multiple different internship opportunities. I was quickly able to see the areas that I really enjoyed, as well as crossing off the ones that I did not. Try taking different classes and exploring clubs and groups to see what you are passionate about. I also reached out to professionals who had jobs that I though I might be interested in to ask them questions about their practice, and took a wide variety of classes until I was able to narrow down which subjects I was actually interested in.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Haohua
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Megan’s Answer

Start broad if you are unsure. You can always start as a liberal arts major with a few business electives and through the work and the classroom you will begin to see what you may be passionate about. Most schools give plenty of time to officially choose a focus and remember you can have a Major and Minor. Good luck to you!
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Elizabeth’s Answer

Hi there.
Selecting a major can be daunting. Be open minded about it. Take a variety of classes to help you decide what makes you passionate and what you dislike. Part of college is exposure to different areas. It is important to be well rounded and open minded too.

Additionally, if you are leaning toward a particular area of study, try to net work with people in that field. Discuss their likes and dislikes. Ask how they got to where they are. As people advance through careers, their area of concentration can (and should) shift. I love asking people “how did you get here? What is your background?” You may be surprised to learn that many people are not currently doing what they went to school for or started out with. Life is about continual growth and bridging gaps from where we are today to where we want to be tomorrow.

Best of luck to you
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Ryan’s Answer

Finding your college major is one of the most daunting decisions for a high school/young college student. I want to start by easing your mind and providing some assurance that this decision, while important, does not define you. Nor does it direct the rest of your life. I mentor a lot of young minds and do some campus recruiting for my company and see a ton of nervousness around not knowing exactly what you want to do. I tell everyone that there is a very very high probability that your first job is not likely going to be the job you have for the rest of your life. Many people will not even have the college major they start with and that is completely okay. I was extremely lucky to be right about choosing a school that I loved and a major I was good at and enjoyed. However. the process that led to this decision I believe was sound.

#1 I wanted to pick something that was as vague as possible yet at least somewhat correlated to my interests. I have always been a people person and have enjoyed working with people and numbers, which lead me to think of business school. PASSION is a big part of the equation. Time is our only real constraint in life. We can get more of just about everything else so think of what you might want to spend your time doing.
#2 I also chose business school because that would give me a wide enough margin for error within the school. Accounting, econ, Supply chain, marketing, etc. If I needed to change my course of study, it wasn't going to affect my degree plan too much. Accounting/marketing very different if you find you don't like one or the other for instance.
#3 I was taking a tour of Texas A&M right before my first days on campus without knowing what I wanted to do. The tour guide sounded very happy with his choice, which was Supply Chain Management, so I decided to look into it. I realized that this major had a high probability of bringing me a good return on my investment for college. Because ultimately that is why you attend college.
#4 was the outlook for this field over time. As well all know supply chain has dominated the media and is going to be very important for years to come. I just did research on what is probably going to be important over time.

I really hope this helps! Goodluck!

Ryan recommends the following next steps:

1Pick something that was as vague as possible yet at least somewhat correlated to interests
#2 Choose something vague like business school because that would give a wide enough margin for error within the school. Accounting, econ, Supply chain, marketing, etc.
#3 Ultimately why you attend college, find a degree with a high probability of bringing a good return on investment for college expenses
#4 The outlook for this field over time.
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Tiffany’s Answer

Hey!

Valid question - I also had the same question when I was an incoming freshman at university. First, I would say that no matter what major you initially pick you are never stuck with so don't fear choosing the "wrong" major. A lot of my peers ended up switching out their majors or picking/dropping majors and/or minors. It's completely normal to not know what you want to study let alone how that will impact your career path. But to get some idea, I would definitely say take a broad range of classes that you feel are interesting in your first semester. A lot of universities have a grace period where essentially you can "shop" for classes and drop or add new classes in the first couple of weeks of school (look into what the policies are for whatever school you are attending). I would start from there - choosing a good range of classes and then seeing what course best interests you!

Second, ask around to upperclassmen and professors about what the graduation requirements/career path will look like if you pick up a specific major. For example, CS majors will have to take x amount of credits in a semester as opposed to say an Educations major who has to take y amount of credits. Then determine how that aligns with your personal time management skills and your career path. Also look at what the school's alumni of the major are off doing. Ask questions like - is there a good network of alumni in this major that I can reach out to? Do their current career paths align with what my future goals are? When you do end up choosing a major, definitely ask upperclassmen in the same department what their experience was with specific courses/professors. A course taught by one professor may be a lot more interesting and engaging then the same course taught by a different professor so don't let one course discourage you from choosing that major - it may be that the professor's teaching style was just not a fit for you.

Lastly, seek mentors who share similar background/interests/identity with you. That doesn't mean you have to copy exactly the path of your mentor but it is definitely a good start to see how people who shared your interests went about with their majors/careers.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Best,
Tiffany
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