How to choose a major

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Many of us come to college with no idea what we want to study.

Exploratory or undecided was the most popular major among undergraduates at the Kent campus last fall. After all, you probably didn’t have to specialize in anything in high school. And that’s a good thing.

Your high school and college years are a time to figure out what you want to do with your life. In high school, you had fewer course options than you do now. Now, you can actually study something that interests you. What a thought!

Picking an undergraduate major is an extremely important decision. Not so much because it will affect the rest of your life, as my history teacher in high school told me, but because it should at least make the next four years bearable.

Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” He might have said the same about choosing a major. “Pick a major you love, and you will never have to work a day in college.”

OK, that might be a little far-fetched, but you came here to enjoy yourself and to, I hope, get something out of this whole “college experience.” Maybe your reason is self-improvement – or maximized earning potential.

I know people who started out majoring in what their parents wanted them to, only to realize after two years that they hated it. I know people who changed their majors during their senior year, effectively adding another two years to their wonderful college experience.

They could have saved themselves a lot of money, pain and heartbreak by figuring out what they liked early on and sticking to it. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to be an exploratory major, but if you’re still an exploratory major in your senior year, you have a long way to go. Some programs here are more difficult than others, and many require at least four years to complete, usually with a full schedule.

Here are some pointers to help you choose a major that I’ve picked up during my two years here:

&bull Follow your passions. Find something that interests you, and then talk to professors in that area. How can you make a career out of being, say, a philosophy major?

&bull If you don’t see anything you like, eliminate! I knew I didn’t want to be a business major. It sounded boring.

&bull Look at course requirements and descriptions for various programs. Are they courses that you would want to take?

&bull Find ways to get involved with your intended major outside of traditional classroom activities. What social or professional organizations can you join?

&bull Think about what you want to do after you graduate, and if you can, find a job or internship that relates to what you want to do in the future.

Me? I ended up in political science and newspaper journalism because I wanted to do something creative and help others at the same time. Sometimes I love what I do. Sometimes I hate my life. But don’t we all?

Contact news editor Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].