This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.
Choosing your college major may seem overwhelming when faced with so many academic offerings, but picking your major should ultimately feel instinctive: what subject are you good at? Which class do you most look forward to? Which subject do you feel most motivated to do well in?
Besides thinking about the present, you also want to look to the future and think about which career seems like something you could see yourself excelling in. If choosing a major is something you’re struggling with, there’s plenty of help.
Here are four things to keep in mind:
Go With What Truly Motivates You—Even If It Wasn’t the Original Plan
The fact is many students get to college and become intrigued by subjects they never took in high school. You may discover that the 9 a.m. Anthropology class is the class you are not only excelling in, but is also the highlight of your day. Pay attention to the classes you genuinely love and can envision pursuing. Remember that old saying: if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life? Well, recognize what you really like learning about.“Pay attention to the classes you genuinely love and can envision pursuing.”
Pay a Visit to the Career Center
Most colleges and universities have a career center whose staff is more than happy to help you figure out just what you were born to do. Besides offering career counseling, they offer several career inventories that will provide insight into what careers would be an ideal match for your interests and natural talents.
Take the Long View
Once you’ve settled on the course work that you truly enjoy, begin to think about the future. Think about where a subject can take you. Is the subject something you’d like to study in graduate school? What does the job market look like for this particular career? Remember, too, that choosing a major is not exactly like choosing a career. For example, an English major may decide on pursuing a law degree or a career in teaching or publishing, whereas someone majoring in Computer Science may see that degree as an ideal foundation for launching a tech startup company.
Seek Out an Academic Adviser
Another source for advice on choosing a major is your academic adviser. If you are undeclared, set up a meeting with an adviser. The adviser can talk to you about course offerings and work with you on a graduation timeline. Besides all this, the adviser can help you think through the decision and talk to you about future job prospects or internship opportunities. Be sure to ask about departmental scholarships while you’re there.
So what’s the best approach to choosing a major? Knowing yourself well enough to recognize where your natural gifts may lie and having an idea of how the major could serve you in the future. It’s also fine to talk to your peers and your favorite professor about the decision. If your choice surprises you, just know that sometimes your major has a way of choosing you rather than you choosing it.