Sunday, January 24, 2016

Choosing the Right Major

Hi everyone and Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a productive and relaxing weekend, whether you were snowed in or gallivanting around your city! I wanted to talk to you all today about the act of choosing the right major. This can be a big decision, so you should reflect on it for more than just a day or a couple of hours. Here are my suggestions on helping you find the perfect major for your college experience and future career!

First things first, most colleges and universities do not require you to declare a major until your Sophomore year, so you can very easily go into your college career as Undecided. It's important to remember though that certain pre-professional programs have a four-year sequence, so declaring that major later will cause you to be a year behind and thus spend an extra two semesters completing the degree requirements. Some examples of pre-professional programs include teacher education, nursing, and dental hygiene. Here are some ways though that you can determine what academic program to pursue!

1. If you think you are interested in majoring in Education, Nursing, or any other program with a four-year sequence, then declaring that when you apply to college will give you the chance to take their first-year courses and still take some general classes to see if you like it. **You can usually tell by that first clinical or teacher observation period whether you are in the right program. If you decide that the program is right for you, then stick with it. If you've decided not then you will be able to switch to a different major. You also won't be asking yourself 'what-if' if you hadn't declared to begin with.

2. Look through the university course catalog at each of the majors and just read through the different course descriptions. Highlight those courses that interest you and you wouldn't mind taking. Set the catalog aside for a day, and when you return make note of those majors that had the most highlighted courses in their section. You may not have realized that you were interested in a specific program because you didn't know the courses within it. So, use this to gauge where your academic interests lie, then take an elective in that program next semester and to test out the waters!

3. Reflect on the classes you took in high school and remember which ones you enjoyed the most; the subject matter not the teacher. I use this distinction because a lot of times we enjoyed a class because the teacher was humorous and made the time pass quickly, not because we had any interest in the course content. So, think back on the classes that you enjoyed studying for and liked doing the assigned projects. This can help you pick a concentration or another major!

4. Use your first two semesters to sample all that the college offers for classes and programs. Pick electives that fit your general degree requirements, but that also give you a taste of the academic offerings at the university. This lets you learn from different professors, and see how students in different majors interact with each other. This is just a great way to sample all that the academic side of your university has to offer!

5. Think about the clubs and organizations that you are attracted to and want to join; both on campus and out in the world. If you like the idea of College Democrats and the Debate Club, then maybe a major in Political Science will be great. If you want to do the Theatre productions and joined an a'capella group, then maybe a Theatre or Music major would be great for you! You want to study something that interests you and that you are going to love a career doing, so pick a major that fits well with those interests!

6. Take an interest and major quiz to get some ideas on where to focus your energy on classes! This one by Loyola University Chicago is really interesting because the academic programs that fit your responses grow as you answer more questions that fit that program. It's kind of difficult to explain, but it can give you some really great ideas on majors to pursue that you may not have thought of. When I did it, my largest majors were History, Education, Political Science, Journalism, and Public Relations. All of these are interesting in my mind and I had thought about majoring in all of them at one point, so I would say that for the most part it is pretty accurate!

Deciding on a major can be difficult and it takes some time to reflect on it, so don't make it an overnight choice! Are you debating on some majors or have a different way you picked yours, then add it in the comments below, I'd love to hear about it! Have a great week everyone!

enjoy the chase,

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