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5 Questions to Ask Before You Choose A Major

It’s difficult and intimidating to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. None of us can predict the future, but we can prepare for it. So, what exactly do you do when it’s time for you to choose a major?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Where do your interests lie?

  • It’s pretty simple, don’t sign yourself up for a life in a job or industry you’re going to hate. Think about the activities and subjects you do like and enjoy; try to find programs that coincide with your interests.
  1. What do you excel at?

  • People always give advice about “doing what you love” but let’s get real. You need your future job or career to pay a good salary too. To get a good or successful job you need some level of competency in order to excel and get future promotions. You might love the idea of being a chemical engineer but if you’re not good at chemistry or math, this might not be the career for you.
  • Look for a job or career path that balances both your interests and what you are competent in.
  • It’s okay if the field is difficult, they often are! It’s important to make a rational but effective choice:
    • Is the work hard but not impossible for you?
    • With extra studying and help are you able to understand the material?
    • Is it satisfying to learn? Are you able to apply what you learn effectively?
  1. Have you done your research?

  • Going into a major blindly is never a good idea. Research about the field, the types of jobs it offers, or what kind of additional credentials or graduate education is necessary. These are all critical components you should know before making a decision.
  • Make sure all the classes, projects, requirements, etc.  within the major are things you’re looking for. Do they sound like the right fit for you?
  • Job shadowing is also a great way to familiarize yourself with fields of interest. If you have a relative or know someone who is doing something you’re interested in, ask if you could shadow them for a day. Try reaching out to the career center or for internships to get a sense of what this major and career will be like.
  1. Do you see yourself in that field in the future?

  • Picture yourself five or ten years from now on. What kind of job are you at? Are you happy? If you think you’ll be unhappy, then it’s best to rethink what you want to do.
  1. Do you have a backup plan?

  • No one can foresee the future, but we can prepare for it. Come up with a solid plan B if you don’t like the job you get, the major you chose doesn’t work out, etc.  
  • For example, I’m currently deciding whether to go to law school. I’ve already applied, but I’m waiting for a response. If I don’t get accepted, what do I do? I can apply to more law schools, apply for a Master’s degree in Business Administration, or jump right into the workforce as a financial analyst.
  • Don’t think you have to be restricted to doing one thing. Know that you have options and that finding your dream career takes time.

Don’t hesitate to speak with others, such as your friends, family, or your school’s advisors or career center. You should choose your major with confidence and know that there are always possibilities awaiting you.