Choosing a major is a big life decision, especially one to make at roughly 18 years old. I think it is way too much pressure to be putting on a young adult—you choose a path of study and you’ll be stuck with that degree the rest of your life—but maybe that’s just me. Regardless, it has to be done sooner or later. Let me tell you though, you don’t have to have it all figured out from the get-go. They may require you to declare your major before registering for classes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t switch (as long as you are still early in the game).
Here’s my experience. I started working towards my Associate of Arts degree at a community college when I was 16 years old with the intention of studying music when I transferred to a university. Then I turned 17 and transferred to a university with no intention of studying music. Instead I started on the path of Applied Mathematics. Quite the switch, isn’t it? But both were passions of mine. I just figured I wouldn’t be able to make much of a career out of studying music unless I wanted to try performing professionally or teach. So I studied math for a year with the hopes of going on to mathematical physics.
Then I still wasn’t feeling like I was on the right path. Math classes were getting more intense and I wasn’t particularly enjoying it anymore. I began looking into other options—basically anything else. The following semester I signed up for a variety of classes, a marriage and family class to become a counselor, a nutrition class to become a dietician, and a money management class for becoming a business-woman in the finance industry. I learned quickly which paths I wouldn’t be going for.
While I enjoyed learning about marriage and family and the psychology behind it, I realized I would be miserable trying to help other people work through their emotional problems. And though my nutrition class was fun, I couldn’t see myself working in that field helping people with their physical problems. I settled on studying Business Management with an emphasis in Finance, so that I could eventually… help people with their financial problems? I just had an epiphany! So many jobs nowadays are service-oriented and are meant to solve peoples’ problems. Bored? This television has you covered. Tired and uncomfortable? Have this memory foam mattress. Cold but you still want to walk around? Wear this Snuggie (because robes weren’t good enough apparently). Anyway, back to choosing majors.
I had completed four semesters by the time I chose my final major, and had gone through two very different majors and the possibility of many others to get there. Some people change their major more times than that and even later in the game (though if you do it too late you risk graduating later). While I felt uncertain about switching my major at the time, I felt reassured as I began taking more business and finance classes and actually felt fulfilled and challenged while taking them. I also appreciated the versatility that a business degree offered after graduation.
My biggest piece of advice for those of you debating what path to choose, start by tasting a little bit of everything the buffet of universities has to offer. The first year or two is the time to experiment and find out what you have a passion for.