I bet you thought the hard part was over. You finally got accepted into college so it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. That’s cute. Now you need to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life by declaring a major. Just ignore all those horror stories of college kids changing their majors three times and still ending up disappointed. But that would never happen to you, right?
Take a minute to consider the questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a major to avoid that happening to you.
1. Do I Actually Want This Major?
Does this major seem like something you want to do or you think you should do? Did you make the decision or your parents? Just because your family thinks that one path is the right one for you does not mean you should blindly follow their wishes. Do your parents push you to do engineering when all you want to do is sing and dance? If you have zero interest in your major now, how do you plan on doing it for the rest of your life?
2. What Are My Passions?
What are you passionate about? Does the thought of sick and hurt animals break your heart? Consider looking into veterinary school. Have you always loved the language of numbers and equations? Try becoming a math major. Have you centered your whole life around saving the environment and teaching your friends and family eco-friendly alternatives? A sustainability major looks like a good option. “If you’re an English Major at UF, you need to be passionate about reading,” junior English and education major at UF Rose Goldwitz said. Your world of possibilities when deciding your major seems endless, but you need to pick the direction that makes you excited to wake up the next morning.
3. What Should I Expect?
Every degree program has different requirements that come with it. In journalism you have to have a capstone course that coincides with the direction in which you want to steer your career. Nursing majors need to pass their Exit Exam before they can even graduate. “I didn’t realize that I would have to read a full novel every week for my English major,” an English major at UF Elizabeth Heidrich said. Each major might have their own obstacles to overcome, so ask yourself whether you find it worth your time or not. If you can’t imagine yourself jumping through hoops for your major, why would you set yourself up for failure?
4. What do I Know About the Major?
Well, what do you actually know? Have you done the research? Some things look better on paper than in real life. Want to major in psychology to help people with their problems? That looks like eight years of school overall. Learn about the different classes and level of difficulty you want to sign yourself up for. You might like the idea of becoming a teacher, but becoming an education major ain’t no joke. Do you know what it takes to survive as a teacher? Majors always sound better to you before you initially begin the coursework. And remember: you have until your sophomore year before you need to stick with a major, so shop around and do tons of research before making a commitment. Half the battle of choosing a major is actually loving it. Do some soul searching and figure out what you love.
5. Do I Wanna Go Traditional?
Sometimes you can’t define the career you want into one specific major. You might have to take the time to consider if you should go a more nontraditional route when it comes to what you want to achieve in college. Know that you can take a minor or two to really cultivate and personalize the future you want to create for yourself. Do you want to specialize in online media? Do journalism with digital media on the side. If you know exactly what you want to do after you graduate, use any means you can to get the most out of your major and minors.
6. What Are My Future Goals?
How do you envision your life five or ten years down the line? Do you want a fast paced life with lots of traveling? Look into majoring in international studies. Do you hate the idea of additional schooling after your four years? Maybe law or medicine are not the majors for you. Also you might want to consider the level of extravagance you see your future self living up to. Although money should not be the deciding factor for your future happiness, it should still factor into your final decision. Try to look at the bigger picture in all of this—fit your major to how you want to live the rest of your life.
7. What Does Your Gut Say?
What class did you never dread going to in high school? What homework was never a struggle for you that you also secretly enjoyed? Just because a certain major seems like an unpopular choice to some does not mean you won’t thrive in it. Everyone has different skills so don’t discourage yourself if you’re the only one who sees cellular systems as art. Also don’t feel scared if your gut doesn’t seem to speak to you. You have the time to explore your options, so don’t just rush into something you might regret doing in the future.
8. Are You Gonna Love it?
Think of finding a major as a potential life partner. You can’t choose right away after the first impression: they always show you their best side when they first meet you. You have to date them for a bit. Learn their quirks and faults—I bet you didn’t realize they can make you cry at 3:00 a.m. on a Wednesday night before an exam. But if you find yourself still falling in love after everything they put you through, maybe the time to marry that major has come.
9. Will I Succeed in This Major?
Now that you know you love a certain major, you also need to ask yourself if you can actually do well in it. Real talk, love can only get you so far if you don’t have some sort of natural talent when it comes to your future. Saving lives as a doctor is commendable, but you can’t help people when you don’t even understand the basics in chemistry and biology. Know your strengths and weaknesses and don’t feel embarrassed about them. You’re better off knowing the reality of your situation now than three years into college when you failed out of your program.
10. Do I Need to Declare My Major Right Now?
Don’t feel pressured into making a decision right now. If you can’t really answer any of the questions mentioned, do not freak out. The first two years of college were designed for you to knock out your general requirements anyway. Take that time to really discover where your interests lie. Swim around, maybe take a couple of classes over the summer to figure out a passion you never knew you had. You have time, I swear—the tortoise won the race.