Making A "Major" Decision

Do You Feel Undecided?

college girl with books

What’s your major? It’s the question that strikes fear into the hearts of many first-year college students. If you’re feeling undecided, not to worry – you’re in good company. “Undecided” is actually the most popular major on most college campuses and 50%-70% of students change their major at least once. If you’re feeling stressed about how to decide a major, here are some great points to consider:

  1. Do you need to make a decision right now? Some schools require you to make a choice right away, but most don’t. And although it could take you a bit longer to graduate if you don’t pick a major freshman year, according to this research it might not be that big of a deal. There are a lot of classes that will count toward general education requirements, so it might be worth checking out a broad range of classes freshman year instead of rushing into something just because you feel pressured to make a decision. 
  2. What majors are you considering—and why? If you’re only thinking pre-med because three generations of your family have been doctors, that’s not a great reason to be thinking pre-med. Take an honest look at what interests you and what you’re good at. Considering a field you’re not that familiar with? Research it. Talk to people who work in the industry—LinkedIn can be a good way to find them—and to department staff at your campus. And be open to new ideas: there’s a big world out there! 
  3. Is this field up and coming or fading fast? Don’t choose a major simply because it’s the “hot” field—that can change and picking something you have no interest in can mean years of regret and frustration. But consider whether it’s worth investing your time and money in a field where there aren’t a lot of jobs. Or a field where it’s really hard to support yourself. Sure, money doesn’t buy happiness but it does pay the rent! For great information about different areas of employment, including employment trends and salaries, check out the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  4. Is there more than one way to accomplish your goals? Unless your area of interest is narrow and/or requires highly specialized training, you can probably get to it in a variety of ways. For instance, if you think you might like to work in some aspect of marketing, a degree in business, communications or journalism is an obvious fit. But some other degrees work well too (depending on your area of interest) like English, economics, art, social media, public relations, anthropology, psychology or statistics.  
  5. Is my college known for this field? Few schools have the resources to do a good job supporting every major. Clues that a program isn’t a priority: small staff, staff without the advanced degrees you’d expect or few classes to choose from. If this is the case, you might want to investigate other options at your school or even consider switching schools. 

Declaring a major can be an overwhelming task, but with the proper soul searching and objective thinking, you may find that the process is easier than you think. And if you're starting down the path of looking at your options of how to pay for your college, you can always take a look at some of our great student loans