Myths About Choosing Your College Major

Flickr user Danny Nicholson

As you start filling out or even completing your college applications, you may have heard a few things swirling around about majors and selecting them. However, there’s quite a lot of myths floating about! Here are just a few you may have heard.

Myth: You have to declare a major on your college application.

You may have heard from certain people that you have to declare a major on your college application. This is not always true. In fact, in most cases, you’re welcome to put “undeclared” and choose a major later on in your education.

It’s important to know though that some colleges do request you declare a major on your application, due to limited spots in a particular subject. Usually you are free to change it if you decide another subject is better suited for you. Do your research about your future potential colleges and see how they handle this. Ask the admissions department what they recommend. But in most cases, you don’t have to declare your major before you even select your first college course.

Myth: You have to choose a major immediately.

So you don’t have to declare your major on your college application (in most cases), you may think you have to choose a major soon after. Not the case. Most schools request you declare a major by the end of your sophomore year or the beginning of your junior year. And still, if you decide midway through your junior class that “This isn’t for me” you are still most likely free to change it.

Note though that changing your major later in your education could cause you to stay at school longer and cost you more money. There are benefits to choosing early or at least having an idea of what you’d like to take, but you are usually not pressured into choosing immediately. (You can even pick interdisciplinary if you are completely unsure!)

Myth: You can’t get a job as a liberal arts major.

Are family members trying to discourage you from obtaining a degree in liberal arts? You may want to rethink that. The degrees are by no means worthless. Choosing your major includes looking at your potential career paths. English, for example, can open up quite a few roads for you including editor, marketer, social media manager, sales, English teacher in another country, content writer, communications expert, and more. History opens paths to journalism, libraries, archives, museums, and teaching as well as several other potential job sectors.

You are not as pigeonholed as you might think with a liberal arts degree. Since lib arts majors have a well-rounded education and are great at communication and critical thinking, they are seen as great hires for potential employers. It’s important rather to be smart about the path you choose and maybe not select a major where there are only one or two jobs available in the whole world. You should be realistic about your potential career path.

Choosing your major may seem like a daunting decision, but know that in most cases you don’t have to make that choice right this minute. Be smart about it. Do your research into a career path you’re interested in, take courses you like the sound of, and take your time with your decision.

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Hilary Cairns

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