On Choosing a Major

Hello lovelies!

 

Choosing a major is one of the most conflicting decisions one makes as a college student. It may decide how you spend the next four years, the amount of free time you have, the number of years you graduate in and obviously, your future path. Most colleges offer you a year or two to decide your path and figure out a major while taking classes as per your wishes, making the decision process clearer for many. However, it’s not always possible for you to play the field, for example if you want to finish college within a certain time period or if finances are an issue. Sometimes it’s difficult to make a decision about a major even after the time offered to you by a college (usually two years), resulting in a lot of confusion.

 

  1. If they’re offering you the time, take it: In times of uncertainty, it’s always best to take some time. In the stress and hurly-burly of college, it’s all too simple to make a decision under pressure and regret it later, perhaps costing you more time and money than if you just take some time, explore your options and delve into subjects that grab your attention. A lot of times, our natural inclinations, when given time to grow, guide us towards decisions that we truly feel an affinity towards. The first year of college is full of foundation courses. If you’re undecided between Economics and English for example, or Electrical Engineering versus Electronics Engineering, it’s always best to experience their basic courses and see what pulls you in most. And then, if in your sophomore year, you find yourself taking a lot of Religion Studies classes or a lot of classes designed around coding, you may have found your calling, academically speaking and lifestyle-wise.
  2. Career Prep: Some courses require a lot of classes, or have a strict allowance of the number of students allowed. In such cases, it’s best to declare your major early, so as to catch up to the course load as fast as possible. In other cases, such as if you know you want to pursue a career in medicine or law, or something specialized, it’s better to begin early. But before you begin, take a few classes in the major, especially beginner ones, which are the ones that tend to bog us down the most. Talk to your seniors, listen to them and your professors talk about coursework, go to a seminar or two and figure out if you can handle it, but more than that, if you like it.
  3. Hobbies vs. Lifestyle: I know the popular adage is, “choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”, but that doesn’t always work in reality. Something which you may use as rest and relaxation away from daily chores may become a burden if it turns into your work itself. You may love photography, but taking it up as work may destroy your enjoyment of it. It’s important to distinguish between passion and a hobby and not turn something you love into a drain on your energy.
  4. Practicality and Passion: Though passion for your major is certainly important, a lot of the time practical considerations weigh into this decision as well. If you’re used to a certain lifestyle, or know you’d like to have experiences that require a certain amount of income, it’s best to combine love and passion with these considerations. College is a huge investment, not only in terms of money, but also in terms of time and it’s important to find a good income to offset the money spent and a good experience in college to offset the time spent.

In the end, however, it’s really always about what’s important to you and your priorities and value system. There’s no point in taking Medicine, when you know your true love is Art, just because you’re worried about future prospects, like grad school, because the kinds of lifestyles both offer are completely different, in terms of office work, travel, how much you prioritize family life, the kind of friends you’ll make in and out of college, etc. You’re not in college just for these four years, the stuff you do here and your daily thinking process in this time does build into the rest of your life and thinking process in some shape or form. You’re in college for an education, an experience, to build your thinking process further and challenge yourself. It’s important therefore to look at yourself and figure out in which direction you want to grow.*

5. Majors and Minors: The coolest thing about most colleges is that you can double major or take a minor for those interests of yours you figure aren’t as well suited to you full time. Until the end of sophomore year, a lot of colleges don’t even force you to declare a major and even beyond that, it’s possible to change it, though be prepared for more years of introductory classes and more than the requisite years of uni.

Some colleges, however, and keep in mind that these are very very few in number, do design your whole curriculum for you, even your electives. If you’re enrolled in these, do remember that online classes are available to you, to build up your skills at your own comfort level and timetable, allowing you to fit them around your already heavily-packed class schedule. There are even classes with personal tutors, since it’s nice to interact with people while learning and if you need someone to keep you on track. Other than these, there are always clubs and centers in home towns (and if not, form one of your own! You can’t be the only business major interested in physics! Show off your entrepreneurial skills, form a class of your own and hire a teacher, or a grad student, maybe even just another undergrad!)

Just remember, most people change jobs every three years or so, and change career tracks twice or thrice in their professional lives. Your entire life is not bound by your major; there are other degrees to obtain and so much work experience to get. Unless you’re working in a highly skilled and specific sector, your major usually works as a signal to your future employers, letting them know your interests, your skills and so on, and most things are picked up on the job.

Explore your classes and yourself, look around you and take some time. You’ll do fine.

For next time, we have “On Being Productive in the Summer” and “On Drinking in College”.

Have fun lovelies!

Simran.

*side tangent: this totally reminds me of Harry Potter. It’s not exactly that the Hat chooses you and pushes you into a House, you choose what to do with your abilities as well. Harry could have succeeded in Slytherin, but he chose to value bravery. Hermione could have easily been in Ravenclaw, but she wanted to explore other sides of her other than the ones she already knew.

 

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