How to Choose Your College Major

by   |   spenning@bju.edu   |  
Student in class

Is it too soon to start thinking about your college major? Are you behind if you don’t have a major chosen yet? Can you still switch your major?

Take a deep breath. Refuse to think about how “normal” high school seniors choose their majors, because no one is really normal when it comes to choosing a college major. If you find yourself simultaneously interested in many and no college majors, you are actually normal.

You probably have already received advice about choosing your major. Likely, most every authority figure in your life has likely told you how to choose your major. What advice should you trust? Below are three common pieces of advice that can be more misleading than helpful.

“Do what you love.”

What comes first: doing or loving? Consider a part-time job you worked or a side job you completed over a weekend. You likely didn’t start the job thinking, “Do I love this?” You probably approached the job knowing it was a job, nothing more than a paycheck.

After working that job, you likely quickly realized that this job is not something you want to do for the rest of your life. Working in food service or childcare is not for you long-term.

Your major is similar. You won’t know if you “love” your major if you have little to no experience working a job in that specific area. Rather than wondering if you like a major enough to call it “love,” consider shadowing a professional or volunteering. Get some experience before you make a decision.

“What are you good at doing?”

Outside of math class, soccer, or some other general skill like working with kids, you may have a hard time truly answering this question. How do you know what you’re good at outside of the context of high school? School is your life and has been your life as long as you can remember.

This advice is not entirely misleading, but it doesn’t always help you think clearly. It actually can raise more questions than answers …

  • What does it mean to be good at something anyhow?
  • Do you have to be the best compared to everybody else you know your age?
  • Do you have to be intensely dedicated?

Instead of thinking in terms of being “good,” think about areas in which you naturally have aptitude or skill. If you’re struggling to come up with a list, consider asking peers, siblings or parents for ideas.

“What are you interested in?”

If your honest answer to this question is nothing, know that many high schoolers approaching graduation feel this way too. Being interested enough in something enough to give it a try is one thing but being interested enough in something to major in it is a completely different idea.

Rather than thinking about how interested you are in a particular major, think about what areas fascinate you. What things do you naturally find intriguing? Why do you find those things so interesting? At the heart of the why question, you may find the answer “what are you interested in?”

So how should you choose your major?

As a Christian, daily take this decision to the Lord in prayer. He will guide your steps. Then come up with a strategy to help you narrow down your options. These 4 steps may help:

  1. Take the time to identify areas in which you have ability and find some enjoyment.
  2. Narrow down these areas to a handful of majors.
  3. Shadow some professionals or volunteer with organizations related to these majors.
  4. Select the major that seems to be the best fit for you, knowing that God may or may not change your plans or redirect your steps.

Your college major does not determine your future success. Don’t allow your quickly approaching graduation trick you into thinking you’ll look lost or unprepared if you’re still deciding between a few different majors.

You can change majors and still succeed, so make the best decision you can now with the information you have.

See Also: Support System: 4 Steps to Changing your Major

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