Do you need to know your major before college?

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You don't need to have all the answers before starting school

You have a lot of choices in college. That’s a good thing! And it’s up to you to explore your options to make the best decision for yourself. Choosing a major in college might feel natural to you or very challenging. You might have known what you wanted to do since you were little, or you could be in college and still have no idea what you want to do. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re unsure about what you want to study in college.

It’s ok to be undeclared

When you apply to college, you probably have many reasons for choosing that school, like the location, campus layout, community, etc. But you still might have no clue what you want to study, which is completely ok. Most colleges have the option to enroll as an undeclared major. Before it’s time to decide a major, you have the chance to take a variety of classes in different fields to get a feel for what your interests are. These are general education classes that are easily transferrable to whatever major you decide to choose later on.

You’re unsure about the major you declared

Let’s say you know what you’re interested in studying and you chose a college based on that specific department. That’s great!

But you still aren’t bound to that decision. If you find yourself not enjoying your major, you still have an opportunity to change your major. Depending on the college you attend, this process could be as easy as filling out a form and registering for different classes. You should definitely talk to your academic advisor about the best way to make the change, especially if you’re worried about losing credits from the classes you’ve already taken. Sometimes your previous class credits can transfer over to your new major.

A major doesn’t determine your future

Choosing a major can feel like you’re determining your future career. And for some people that might be true, but a major does not have to determine your life or career. Sure, having a goal set early on in college can have its perks. According to the 2022 “How America Completes College” research report, college completers are more likely to have studied science, technology, engineering, or math-related fields. And 2% of completers and 10% of non-completers left school without having a declared major. But it’s important to note that the #1 reason people do not complete college is a change in motivation or focus. The support a student needs throughout college is key to having a successful college experience. However, students cited lack of support when choosing a major as a contributing factor to leaving school. 

You don’t need to know your major early on, but you should feel confident and committed to your education. Regardless of your major, your future career can still take many turns. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people born from 1957 to 1964 had an average of 12.4 jobs from ages 18 to 54 and nearly half of those job changes happened before the age of 25. So, it’s pretty common for people to change career paths and still be successful. There will be many different opportunities in your future. And your college major does not decide your future. It’s ok to be unsure and undeclared. 

Choosing a major

At the end of the day, you should be passionate about what you’re studying and make the right decision for you. If that means you have to try out different things first, go for it. Ideally, you should pursue a field that you have interest in and will enjoy doing in the future. But it’s totally understandable if you’re looking to get into a field that’s in high demand for jobs. Some current high demand fields are software developers, engineering, and healthcare. 

Remember that no matter what you choose to major in, your hard work will pay off. And don’t forget that you can find scholarships for your unique interests and skills. Everyone’s path in college will be unique and it’s ok if it takes you a little bit of time to figure things out.

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