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Were you confident about your major?

Hi, I'm a 16-year-old high school student and I wanted to know at what age were you confident about what you wanted to major in? Did that change once you got into college?

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Bridget’s Answer

Hi Jaliyah,

It's awesome that you're already starting to give some thought to what you might want to pursue when you go to college! That being said, I applied to every single school undecided or on an exploratory track because I didn't know what was out there. In hindsight, I'm really glad I did! I ended up double majoring in Communication and Sociology (which I didn't fully declare until the end of my second year so I was 20), and had barely heard of either of them before I set foot on campus. If you have an idea of what you might want to study but are afraid of making the "wrong choice" (a myth!), consider doing some research about how easy it is to change majors at the schools you're interested in. It might give you some peace of mind to know that even if you apply with one major it's not difficult to change if you realize it's not a good fit.

Some majors like pre-med, pre-law, nursing, etc. might be more difficult to transfer into once you get into a college, but most other majors shouldn't be too hard to get into. Although do be aware, some majors in areas like business or finance may require you to fill out an application to transfer, but it's usually not too difficult.

If you do end up going into your freshman year undecided, use that time to take classes in a variety of topics so you can see what you actually like vs. what you think you will. As Briana said, you might think you want to do something and then realize it's not what you thought it would be!

Try not to get overwhelmed by the options or discouraged if you don't like a class you really thought you would. Use this time leading up to college to think about your interests and see how that might translate into a certain major, but don't panic or stress about going in undecided. In the end, you have time and your decisions don't have to be final :)
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Brianna’s Answer

Hi, Jaliyah,

As a general rule in the USA, you don't have to pick a major in a 4-year college until your junior (3rd) year. If you are looking to get an Associates (2-year) degree, you generally have to know your major starting out so that you can get all your classes covered in that short amount of time.

For me personally, I didn't have a clear idea for a while. In middle school, I wanted to be an English major because I enjoyed literature. However, as a high school student, I was interested in a science degree so I could attend medical school. I quickly figured out that I didn't enjoy college-level biology and stopped being interested in pre-med for that reason. I wound up really enjoying my foreign language class, which I minored in and studied abroad with (2 things I had not planned on doing when I entered college). I became very interested in cognitive science after learning about it in a psychology course, and I eventually declared a Cognitive Science major with a focus on language processing, and a foreign language minor. After that, I took a gap year before looking into graduate schools. I did cognitive science research for my Bachelors degree and looked into cognitive science research graduate positions. However, I decided I didn't want to do research all my life and looked up "applied psycholinguistics jobs," landing on clinical speech-langauge pathology, aka speech therapy. I did not know that was a job or a graduate degree option until the year I applied for the graduate program.

That is all to say, don't feel like you need to know your major or career path at your age. You'll have plenty of chances and opportunities to figure it out along the way and are guaranteed to find out about a subject or job youre interested in that you haven't even heard of right now.
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