Niche Resources

How to Choose the Right Major for You

persons feet standing at two arrows to make decision

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

“What’s your major?”

It’s a question whose answer might have some of you reeling.

It’s one of the most important decisions you can make as a high school senior or a college student.

After all, it’s the reason why you’re even going to college, right?

In life, important decisions are usually the most difficult ones to make.

Choosing the right major is no exception to that rule.

Why Does It Matter?

Finding the right major early on is what determines the pacing of your entire college experience.

You can spend a few semesters working on your general education courses if you’re unsure of what to do, but time will eventually run out.

Feeling rushed while in college—while trying to balance your academic, social, work, family, and personal lives on a knife’s edge—is a dangerous position to be in.

The sooner you know what to do, the better your overall college experience will be. 

Your major plays a crucial role in how your life will look after graduation.

Every college student knows that college is a very expensive commitment. Choosing the right major not only streamlines your college experience, but also set you up for a career that will help you pay those huge expenses. 

Making Your Choice

Now comes the time for our million-dollar question: how do I choose the right major?

The basic answer is to find the balance between what you’re interested in and whether it can lead to a job that will provide for your future.

First, consider your passions.

Look at what you’ve pursued so far in life, and condense everything into a few professions. What jobs line up with what you like and do?

There is a plethora of career aptitude tests on the Internet; take as many as you’d like until you start to see some patterns. Then, make a shortlist of the careers you’re interested in and throw in a few that you didn’t expect to see.  

Before you make your final decision, consult people close to you.

Family, friends, teachers, advisors, and mentors are worth more than gold during this time of your life. These people have seen you in action and can teach you something that you didn’t even know about yourself.

Are you noticing any more patterns? Did someone point out any possible issues or concerns?

Truly consider what others say and follow through with what seems right to you.

At the end of it all, this is your career.

Then, start researching what educational background your interests require and choose the major which suits them best.

If the time ever comes when you realize that you’re pursuing the wrong thing, don’t worry! You can always switch majors, as I did.

Here’s How and Why I Switched Majors

My first college semester was in fall 2020 as a biology major at the University of Central Florida.

Given that I graduated high school with an IB diploma, I was already taking courses for my major during my first semester of college. I only had a couple of general education courses left to take.

The classes I took during the fall semester weren’t extremely difficult, but I started to question whether I wanted to continue on the path I was on.

After consulting with my parents and advisors, I switched majors from biology to nursing.

Making the switch is definitely nerve-wracking.

As Michelle Obama once said, “You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”

Once you know that you’ve lost interest in what you’re pursuing, it’s no longer worth it.

Examine what could have gone wrong when choosing your previous major: incorrect prioritization, rushed decisions, split opinions, etc. Taking a step backwards isn’t an admission of defeat.

I chose to take a step back so that I could then take the right steps forward rather than staying where I was and standing still. The degree with which you graduate will follow you around for the rest of your life. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Pursue Other Interests

Let me make something abundantly clear: Choosing a major that suits one interest doesn’t mean forsaking your other interests.

Colleges offer you the ability to pursue your passions (note the plurality). There are multiple clubs and organizations throughout campus that cater to every type of person. Your college may even have special programs to help you get the most out of your time there.

Before heading to campus, visit your college’s website and browse through the different student organizations. Find the ones that pique your interest.

You’ll also find other like-minded people and make friends instantly.

Coming from a student who has had this experience robbed from them due to COVID-19, don’t take this lightly. Friends are a blessing when you’re getting adjusted to college life. They are there for you during late night study sessions and moments when you just need encouragement.

College is a time of growth, and having the right people around you will help you grow properly.

Back to browsing your college’s website.

Look into their major, minor and certificate programs.

If you can’t make your mind up about a major, why not double major?

If you have a subject that you’d like to learn more about in conjunction to your major, why not minor in that subject?

After I switched majors, I discovered that I would have a free semester. Having always been interested in psychology, but never having had the time for it as a biology major, I decided to make use of my free semester and minor in psychology.

If you’re more limited with your time but still passionate about another subject, consider a certificate degree program. You’ll be able to learn without adding too much of a workload on yourself.

Deep Breath… You’ll Figure It Out

To the high schoolers reading this, don’t worry! You’ll get through this time of your life, and you’ll do so while thriving.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes or taking detours; you’ll eventually find the right path to walk. Choosing the right major is simply another step in the greater path of life.

Want to put a face to the experience?

Hear Niche ambassador Josh share how decided to switch majors. 

Author: Christian Jalligao

Christian is a Nursing major with a minor in Psychology at the University of Central Florida. When he's not studying for his courses, you can find him in the gym or walking around campus—with a camera in hand. He loves taking pictures and shooting videos in his free time. In the future, he hopes to become an anesthesist.