Some students start college knowing exactly what they’d like to major in. Others don’t know what to major in, or have a career goal but no knowledge of what majors will get them there. Most find themselves switching majors during college. Here are some tips, no matter where you fall in this range.


What is a college major?

Students are required to major in a specific academic subject (or professional field) to demonstrate sustained, high-level work in one field. Depending on the college, a student might major in two fields, have a major and a minor, or even create their own major.


When should a student declare a major?

At most colleges, students aren’t required to declare a major until the end of their sophomore year. In a two-year degree program, the student will probably select a major at the start because their course of studies is much shorter.


How does a student choose?

First and second-year students usually take more general courses while they try and decide on a major. After this initial “shopping” period, coursework becomes more focused and specific. Make sure that genuine interest is there, though. A student should not choose a major by process of elimination — that could take a while. Students should take courses in things that appeal to them, then try and focus on a subject that will interest and motivate them. Students will do better, and the motivation can continue through college and into a job.


What if a student wants to go to grad school?

If a student thinks that law school, medical school, or grad school is in their future, some schools offer pre-professional majors (such as pre-med or pre-law). Most advisers suggest declaring a “normal” major unless the student is set on their plans after college. As long as a student fulfills a grad school’s course requirements, it really doesn’t matter what the student majors in.


Does my major dictate my profession?

Sometimes. If a student want to specialize in something like nursing, accounting, or engineering, then the student is learning a specific trade and will likely continue with that. Most majors, however, prepare a student for a range of things that they will be trained to handle once they graduate. For most students, picking a college is not the same as picking a career. It will be up to the student to go with what the like.



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