Committing to a Major
Many students apply for college not knowing what they want to pursue
as a career, and many feel pressure to decide on a major early on. If selecting
a focus has you stressed out, relax. You do have some time to explore.
students don't need to select a major until well into their sophomore year
of college. You can investigate your options before deciding on a focus of
study. (And if you change your mind later on, you're hardly alone: 80 percent
of college students will change their major at least once.)
people are unsure when they're starting out," Nathan Gebhard wrote in the
New York Times in July 2015. "Where they end up isn't a direct result of their
major; it's the result of a meandering process."
That said, there
are definite advantages to coming up with a plan sooner rather than later.
student with a plan is more likely to get to the ultimate goal in the most
efficient manner," says Mark Boggie. He is the assistant dean of student services
at Cochise College in Arizona. "Students who set a goal, have a plan and work
to meet that goal will be more successful in completion."
out that choosing a path early can help you avoid paying for (and setting
aside time for) classes that won't help you complete your degree.
the case of financial aid, recent regulations have pushed students to be more
efficient in course taking and in some cases NO extra classes can be paid
for by Pell Grants or student loans," says Boggie. "This restrictive environment
places pressure on students and their advisors to ensure the student can complete
in the specified credits/semesters before the aid is discontinued."
may also feel pressure from colleges (they want to increase the number of
students who complete degrees) or from your family (who may want to get you
through college and into the workforce as quickly as possible). But don't
panic if you don't know exactly where you want to be in 20 years.
"In my personal career trajectory, I did not find my niche... until well into
a 30-year education career," says Boggie. After 12 years in teaching, he decided
to get his master's degree in educational counseling - and thereby discovered
his true passion.
Regardless of whether you have a definite goal
or whether you plan to explore some options, keep in mind that your education
will not end when you get your degree.
"Lifelong learning is truly
the environment we live in today," says Boggie. "Even 'terminal degrees' are
no longer the end of learning. New job requirements, new technology, new career
fields are always changing the base skills, knowledge and attitudes [that]
workers of today need."
For more on this topic, see:
to Choosing College Majors: