Major Concerns: Pressure of Choosing a College Major

Choosing a major can be one of the most daunting aspects of your college experience, as you are asked to make a decision that seemingly affects the rest of your life.

Most of us have felt pressure to make the right choices regarding our course of study. By keeping in mind some key advice, your major selection does not have to be an intimidating and overwhelming process.

Utilize Your Resources

Don’t neglect the free services that are at your disposal as a college student. Many schools have career advisors and academic advisors who are more than willing to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. These counselors can help you learn how to apply your chosen major to specific career paths, as well as direct you to relevant internships. Most colleges and universities also have extensive alumni networks. Consider conducting an informational interview with an alumnus who graduated in your major of interest, or one whose profession you admire, as they can provide you with valuable insight into future job possibilities.

Explore Your Interests

What are you good at? What do you love? It may sound trite, but the more passionate you are about your classes and your major, the more likely it is that you will have a rewarding academic experience. Some colleges and universities won’t let you declare a major until you have reached a certain number of credit hours. Even if this is not the case and you are still undecided, take time to explore your interests. For example, if you have always been interested in politics, consider taking an Intro to Political Science course. This is a great way to help you realize where your passions lie. Taking classes that interest you can help you make an informed decision, while also fulfilling general education requirements.

Try to keep in mind that your major does not necessarily determine your future career. There are many ways in which specific degrees can be applied to a wide variety of professional opportunities. Don’t underestimate the importance of your own desire. If you truly enjoy what you are doing, you are far more likely to work harder and excel in your chosen field.

Trust Your Instincts. Trust Yourself.

When I decided to major in English, a lot of people told me that I was making a big mistake. Whether it is positive or negative, your friends and family will inevitably want to weigh in on your academic decisions. Perhaps your parents are worried that your choice of major will limit your options after graduation, perhaps they prefer that you take into account the relatively high job security of certain degrees. While input can be helpful, it’s not always warranted. Be respectful of others’ opinions but always remember to trust your own instincts. If you know what you want and believe that you are making the best choices for your future, don’t let detractors sway you. Don’t make a decision based on someone else’s opinion; at the end of the day you are the one who puts in all the work, and the one who ultimately walks away with the degree.

It’s Okay to Change Your Mind 

According to the College Board, the majority of college students will change their major at least once before graduation. If you declare your major early and find out after a year or two that this decision no longer aligns with your personal or professional goals, don’t be afraid to make a switch. When I realized halfway through my undergraduate career that I wanted to change majors, I struggled with the decision; I was unsure how it would affect my desired trajectory. After conferring with an academic advisor, however, I realized that I could change majors without any dire consequences. Be aware that a late concentration change has the potential to postpone graduation and incur more tuition costs, but if you feel as if your interests have shifted, don’t hesitate to explore the possibility of changing majors.

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Brianna Low

Brianna Low

Brianna Low is a rising senior at DePaul University pursuing a double major in English and Spanish. Brianna enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. She currently works for DePaul's Art Department as a receptionist and hopes to one day work in a library. Brianna is happiest when surrounded by books.
Brianna Low

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