Career Services

Career Tip of the Month

What Classes to Take if You're Undedecd About Your Major

There are many reasons why students are undecided about their major. Some students simply haven't had a chance to explore all of the hundreds of opportunities that are available today. Others have such broad or varied interests that they don't want to limit themselves to just one area. If you are undecided about your future career plans, you may think you're the only one in your class who hasn't selected a major. But you're not alone. It is estimated that about 50% of college students are undecided about their choice of major.

If you are one of those students who are still exploring which major is best for you, then what do you do in college? Which courses should you take? Ideally it's always better to choose a major earlier rather than later, but (and here's the caveat) it really depends on the requirements of the major that you choose. Some majors are more lenient than others in accepting upper level students into their programs, others are not.

So here's what to do: If you simply cannot decide on a major, my advice is to start by making a basic choice between pursuing a science or a non-science based major (s). And here?s the reason why: it's easier to switch from a science-based major (Math, Engineering, Science, Business, and Agriculture) to a non-science major (Arts, Communications, Education - except math or science education, and Liberal Arts) than it is to go from a non-science major to a science based one. Science-based majors require a completely different sequence of courses (i.e., more math and science courses) than non-science based majors, which usually require more liberal arts and language courses.

If you are "undecided" about your major, here are some suggestions when planning your college courses:

1. Begin by taking the basic "core" courses - English, history, psychology, philosophy, sociology, and physical education. If you placed in developmental math or English, begin taking that course and then progress to the next level.

2. Take courses that are common to both (or more) of the majors that you're considering. Work closely with your academic advisor each time you register for classes so you select the correct courses to complete the requirements for each major.

3. "Test" a possible major by taking an introductory course in whatever major interests you. Sometimes the only way to find out if you are going to enjoy Accounting or Graphic Design is to take the course.

4. Determining which math and science courses to select will depend on what major you are interested in pursuing. If you can't decide between two majors, follow the curriculum that contains the most rigorous sequence of courses. For example, if Major A requires Biology and Chemistry and Major B only requires Biology, then take Biology AND Chemistry so you can keep both options open until you?re ready to make a decision. The worst thing that will happen is that you may end up having some extra courses, but the safest way to keep all of your options open is to prepare yourself for both (or more) majors. If you choose your courses wisely, you can always use those extra courses as electives or to fulfill the requirements for a minor or even a double major.

5. Go to your college career center and make an appointment to take an interest inventory. Continue to research career options and explore classes in majors that you think you might enjoy. Your diligence will pay off.

From How to Choose Your Major by Mary E. Ghilani July 2017. Available at July 21, 2017

on July 31st.