As you’re getting ready to graduate high school, the number one question you’re going to hear is, “So, what college are you going to go to?” That one will be quickly followed by, “What are you going to major in?” If you don’t have an answer to that second question, you’re not alone – and it’s okay to not have an answer just yet! You have time and ways to figure out exactly what you want to study. Here are some tips on what you should do if you’re undecided on your major.
6 Things You Can Do if You’re Undecided on a Major
1. Remember: You Have Time
The biggest thing to remember is that, in most cases, you have time to declare a major. Most colleges and universities don’t make you declare a major until you’re finishing your sophomore year or starting your junior year. So, if you’re just entering college, don’t fret. You have time to figure it out.
There are exceptions to this rule of course. Certain majors, such as engineering or art, have their own admission processes. Engineering, for example, is a very competitive area of study and often requires a separate application in order to be accepted to the program. It’s entirely possible for a student to easily get an acceptance letter to a school but not the engineering program. And art majors usually have to submit portfolios of their work.
Even in these cases, though, you may still have time. You might qualify for one of these majors at a later date if you decide they’re for you!
2. Brainstorm What Interests You
When trying to decide on a major, it helps to brainstorm. Don’t think about areas of study however – think about your passions and interests. Think about what makes you you. Here are some questions to get you started:
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
- What drives you?
- Do you consider yourself a people person or would you rather work alone?
- Do you enjoy hands-on work?
- What gives you confidence?
- What is important to you in a career?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What are your priorities in life?
- How do you want to be a part of your community?
The answers to these questions could very well give you valuable insight into yourself, your goals, and your life’s passions. That, in turn, could point you towards a major or career!
Researching potential majors is also a good idea at this stage as you can see what you’ll be studying and the career options available to you after you graduate.
3. Take a Variety of Classes
Another way for undecided majors to decide on a major is to simply try them all!
Not really, but taking a variety of different classes that simply call your name can be a great way to broaden your horizons, learn more about subjects that interest you, and potentially find your dream major and career. These classes can count towards your general education and elective requirements, too, so don’t think of it as wasting time. This is a time for exploration, and what better way to explore than to take different courses that simply interest you.
4. Shadow Professionals
If you think you have a general idea of what you’d like to study or are testing out the waters of different majors, shadowing professionals can provide you with insight into your day-to-day should you make it a career. Many students entering college know they love a particular subject, but once they get into the career field, they may be shocked at what their day actually looks like.
Media has done a good job of hyping up some careers and downplaying others. Forensics is not like CSI and archaeology doesn’t have a place in Indiana Jones! By shadowing professionals, you can get to experience the real deal and this could very well influence your choice of major.
5. Take a Gap Year
If you’re really struggling and undecided what to major to choose, or just need time to think, you can take a gap year at any point in your college career. Many take it just after high school to get some job and life experience under their belt before heading back to school, but you can always take a year off in the midst of your college education, too.
However, do note that gap years can sometimes disqualify you from certain scholarships and grants, making college more difficult to afford. It may be better to consider attending community college, even part time, instead of taking the entire year off. That way you continue your education and have time to think about your options as well.
6. Talk with Your College About Your Options
Your college is there to help you with your education, not just take your money! Schools have resources for students who are in a similar boat to you. If you can’t decide on a major, consider talking to your advisor first. They can give you information about the next step and direct you towards resources and other teachers who can help you make the decision.
It’s also likely that your college has a Career Center. The experts in this department can help you craft resumes and go through mock interviews, but they can also help you decide on a career and major! They often actually have career tests, too, which will highlight your strengths, weaknesses, and passions. The Career Center employees can then go over the results with you to see what options spark your interest.
Whether you’re graduating high school, or you’ve already started your college career, it’s not the end of the world if you are undecided on your major. You have options and you have time. Talking with professionals who are there to help you, thinking about your passions, and exploring your options can all give you valuable insight and direction for your future education and career.
If you’re undecided on a major, it helps to research your options. We have a Major Search tool that gives you information on a wealth of areas of study, the best schools for each subject, and career options you could explore. Use it for free here!