Pick-a-Major: Finding What Works for You

One of the hardest decisions I faced when I entered the College of Letters and Science was figuring out what I wanted to study. With over 80 full majors and over 100 minors to choose from, the possibility of what major to choose results in endless combinations. Not to mention the option of applying to majors between other colleges; actually deciding what path to choose can seem like an insurmountable task. It definitely felt that way when I was a freshman two years ago. It seemed like there were just too many interesting classes to take and not enough time in my schedule.

So here are my strategies to picking a major that’s best for you!

1. Major in something you’re passionate about
This is a phrase you’ll hear universally in college. In my opinion, being passionate doesn’t necessarily mean you are 100% in love with your major, and it doesn’t necessarily mean making that topic the central focus of your life. Rather, your major should be a topic that you’re passionate about being able to grow or develop within that field of study. For both of my majors in Political Science and Music, I already had a little bit of knowledge of the topics offered, but there were many areas in which I had never taken a course or ever even heard of. So this strategy goes along with the condition that you have preliminary understandings and qualifications for your major, which leads me to my second point.

2. Find where your strengths and weaknesses are
Sometimes subjects we care about aren’t really for us. In my first two semesters, I took a variety of classes from Entomology, the study of insects, to Anthropology focusing on primates and primitive human species. While I really enjoyed those classes and considered doing more in depth studies into them, I realized that the practical and scientific skills needed to be successful were skills that weren’t my strong suit. While I could definitely shift my focus into more biological science based studies, I hadn’t already curated a foundation in those areas like I had in writing and text analysis.

3. Discover more about career paths
Your professors and GSI are an incredibly helpful tool for you to find out what kind of professional pathways your major qualifies you for. Meeting and working with your instructors is a vital academic habit, and you can use what you learn in your classes as a stepping stone to work in different fields.
As a Music major, I’ve come to learn that there many different sectors in which you can work, whether that be music history and research, ethnomusicology, working in the music industry, or serving as part of a professional music ensemble. Similarly with my Political Science major, I’m prepared for professions like government or legal work, research into political science trends, campaign work and staffing, or analytic work into different political systems.

While these tips won’t help you solidify your major pathways for certain, they are a great starting point for thinking practically about what to major in. And at the end of day, college is all about discovering who you are and what kinds of studies and work vibe best with you. So have fun! Take a peculiar class or two, and you may discover there’s a major you never thought of before.