How to Choose Your College Major

Asking Yourself These Questions Can Help Make the Decision Easier

Young girl studing in dormitory
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When you were in high school, everyone wanted to know where you were going to go to college. Now that you're there, everyone wants to know what you're going to major in. If you're having problems deciding, try asking yourself these five questions.

What Do I Love?

Knowing what really engages you is critically important when picking a major. If you think you want to be a doctor but can't wait until chemistry ends because it means you can head straight to your Shakespeare class, pay attention to that. No matter what major you choose, if you're like everyone else, you'll end up changing careers several times during your lifetime. So pick something that speaks to the fire in your belly and that will get you excited, regardless of the context in which it's presented.

What am I Good At?

Do students in your residence hall always come to you for help with their biology homework? Do you always earn rave reviews for your performances or art work? Majoring in something that you have a natural inclination toward can speak to where your interests and skills are, and, if you're particularly skilled in a specific subject, can possibly lead to further study (abroad, in graduate school, or with a fellowship after graduation).

What Do I Want to Do?

Have you always wanted to be a doctor? A teacher? A lawyer? Don't limit yourself to only doing what is traditional for those fields. If you want to be a doctor but have a love of Spanish literature, make sure you take your pre-med requirements ... and look into majoring in Spanish. Having college goals and exploring your interests along the way can be a bonus on your graduate school applications. Similarly, if you know you've always wanted to work on Wall Street, make sure you're adequately prepared with the coursework you'll need to get your foot in the door. Your major and your preparation for a professional field don't always have to be the exact same thing.

What Skills Do I Want to Learn?

If you love theater and are hoping to pursue it full-time after you graduate, remember to keep in mind the additional skills you'll need to do so. If you want to run your own theater company someday, you'll need to know about all kinds things about business rules, ethics, marketing, writing, public relations, and customer service. Pick a major that is intellectually interesting and that also provides you with the practical training you may need later.

What Life Factors Do I Need to Consider?

Many students have additional factors influencing their college choices: family, financial obligations, cultural expectations. While exploring your own path is highly important, it's also important to keep in mind that these external forces will have an influence on your post-college life in one way or another. Finding a major that can provide balance for your internal dreams and desires with external expectations can make an overwhelming situation sometimes feel more manageable.