Here’s my latest article for Schooled. I’m not enamored by it, but it’s the topic I was assigned and what I could put together in the hour before the deadline.
So it’s March and you haven’t decided on a major yet. No problem. It’s March of your senior year and you haven’t decided. Now we have a problem. Remember when your buddy told you that you could graduate as an open major? He was joking. But how are you supposed to make a decision like this? This will impact the rest of your life. Where you work, what car you drive, and most importantly, whether you’ll be more attractive to the members of the opposite sex. Luckily you have us to help you out.
Use your available resources. If your school isn’t based off a tropical island or internet site it will have a counseling center. Even some of those imaginary universities have them. BYU has the Career and Learning Information Center as well as Open Major Counseling, both located in the Wilkinson Center. UVSC has Career and Academic Counseling Center in the Business Building. It’s these peoples’ job to help you out. Go talk to them! Yes, you’ll have to give up a half hour of flirting or playing ultimate Frisbee or whatever you’d otherwise be doing. But you’ll get to talk to someone who knows what options are out there and how to get your education on track.
Get specific. If you have a general idea of what you’re interested in you can skip to the next step. If physics is definitely your thing (you sick twisted person) than go straight to the physics department. They’ll tell you the difference between the physics, biophysics and ceramics majors. Didn’t know that ceramics was in the physics department? Well you won’t know these things until you go to the experts. Every department will have its own counseling service, and like the general counseling, they’ll be happy to help. But unlike the general counseling they’ll have detailed knowledge of the actual field you plan on going into.
The people at these counseling centers are the real experts. They probably majored in major choosing. I did no such thing. But having no expertise has never stopped me from giving advice before. So here’s what I recommend:
Ask around. Talk to everyone. If they’re in college they know something. If they graduated from college they know something. If they failed to graduate they definitely know something. Pool your knowledge with all those friends you’re making playing Halo and see what they’ve learned. Even better, go talk to the upperclassmen. They’ll tell you what majors will kick your butt, and which ones will kick your butt, but are worth it anyway. As much as it pains you, ask the advice of your older siblings and even, gasp! your parents. No one person can tell you what major is right for you, but the more information the better.
Eliminate your dislikes. Once I was accepted to college I printed out a list of all the majors available at my school. I took out my pen (a pencil will work if you’re that indecisive) and started scratching out majors I knew I’d hate. What can I say? I’m not the world’s most positive person. I knew I wouldn’t like statistics, French or math teaching. Theater? Not for me. Information Systems? No way. Before I knew it I was down to less than a dozen majors. That was a list I could work with.
Do what you enjoy. If you’re going to dislike studying it for 4 or more years, you’re probably going to hate doing it as a career. It doesn’t matter if it’s the major with the highest starting salary. I know it’s hard to believe, but it doesn’t matter if it’s the major with the hotties. If you don’t like it, DON’T DO IT! You’ll just end up back in college ten years from now. Try flirting with the hotties then. And make sure to actually look at the classes involved in the major, not just the name itself. I was a biochemical engineering major my first semester. Turns out that I hate chemistry and calculus. Guess what kind of classes biochemical engineering majors take? Guess what they spend their life doing? Choose something you like. Choose something that will actually motivate you to get out of bed in the morning after staying out at Betos until 3.
Things change. I’m currently on my third major. As previously stated, I soon discovered I hated my first major. My second major wasn’t so bad, but I found my third and final major a semester later. If you care to know, Neuroscience is the only true and living major upon the face of the campus. No one cares if you change your major, in fact it’s expected. There’s no point in staying somewhere once you know it’s not for you. However, major-swapping is a fantastic way to stay in college until you’re 48. Keep in mind that certain majors will require a solid 3 or 4 years of commitment. This is why you need to choose a major, not just throw darts at a dart board to pick your course of study. That half hour of research can save you semesters of aggravation.
Mix and match. Some people are just too amazing to be confined to one major. If you’re dead set on studying both malaria and Danish, you’re going to have a hard time finding a major. Scandinavian pathology may be a major somewhere, but not in Utah. Double majoring certainly is an option. You’re almost certainly not going to get through both in four years, but if both are important to you it could be worth your while. Another option is to pick up a minor to round out your studies. I now have an English minor, mostly so I can actually take classes with women. Again, you won’t graduate as quickly, but it may be worth it to you.
Deciding on that major is a difficult choice. Your mom’s not here to help you, but you’ve got professional counselors and magazine writers, which are almost as good.