“Brains are like fingerprints – although there are commonalities, there are differences that make each brain unique,” said author and professor of psychology and psychiatry Margaret Semrud-Clikeman.
Not all students are ready to decide who they are, where they’re going in life or what their majors will be when they enter college.
Pressure to choose a major at the beginning of a student’s college career is unnecessary and oppressive. Most young students go to college because it is expected of them, not because they know what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
When schools require students to declare a major before they know who they are, what interests them and what they are good at, it may lock them into a plan for failure. If students’ skills, personality and interests aren’t compatible with the chosen major, it increases the likelihood that they are more likely to skip classes, fail classes and become discouraged, depressed or overwhelmed, which in turn makes them more likely to quit school altogether.
Allowing students to get general degrees, to explore new fields and to try things they never have tried gives them the power to choose something they can succeed in and will love to do without stifling the growth process. Students who are interested in learning what career opportunities and degrees match up to their skill set and interests can take the My Plan test.
Regardless of the degree you wish to obtain, you have some choices about electives, general education courses and personal interest classes.
Choose the ones you really are interested in even if they are upper-level classes; you may be onto something. Ask upperclassmen in the field you are interested in which classes they liked best, which teachers inspired them, where they went for help when they struggled and whether they would recommend that path to other students.
Ask people who are working in your field what they love about it, what makes it enjoyable, what their job really entails and whether their degree relates to their career. Ask if you can shadow or intern with them for a few days to see what it really is like and whether you actually would like that experience or environment.
For some students, the hardest part of choosing their major is the pressure everyone else puts on them to nail down a choice without ever taking the time to help them explore their strengths, interests and skills.
When choosing a major, one should assess one’s skills, interests, passions and ability to learn new things. If the major you are considering is in a field you would volunteer in because it brings you joy, then it probably is a great choice for you.
Two-year colleges are much easier and less costly to make mistakes in than four-year colleges and universities. If you dislike the preparatory classes in your chosen field, it is more likely that you will not enjoy the harder and more intense upper-level classes that will follow.
It is OK to change your mind, but talk to your financial aid adviser first, because there are some rules about changing majors and receiving aid.
If you already have chosen your major but still are unsure whether you chose wisely, don’t worry; your degree doesn’t have to determine what the rest of your life will be like.
Research done by the Center for College Affordability found that almost 50 percent of college graduates end up being overqualified for the jobs they acquire. Some never work in the field they study in and others, after working in their chosen field, decide it isn’t for them. You are not limited by the major in which you choose to study. It is more of a guideline to get you on track to a better future.
A degree should enhance your life, assist you in furthering your interest in a specific field and/or be a steppingstone to a new and more fulfilling career in a similar field. Maybe colleges and universities need to rethink the early declaration of a major and explore how to inspire students to choose a path they will love.