Declaring and sticking to a major in college can either be one of the hardest or easiest decisions a student is faced with during their four years.
Frank LaDore, the director of Academic and Career Advising, says students will, on average, change their major three to five times throughout their time at a school.
“Students think they know what they want to do and think they know what career path they have coming out of high school,” LaDore says.
Sometimes that means they find themselves working toward a degree that they do not see themselves pursuing or change their major after some sort of epiphany.
As a freshman or sophomore in college, it can be tough to know exactly what to major in, but as a junior or senior, it is advised to that students make a decision. Declaring a major early in a student’s academic career can give students the higher probability of completing requirements for a timely graduation.
Otherwise, the indecision can also put students in a difficult spot financially, LaDore says.
Students often think about their income and success rate after graduating when exploring majors, but fail to think about what is actually going to make them happy.
Emma Tiso-Pagani is currently pursuing a major in communication and a minor in English – professional writing. Before confidently settling in with her current major, she says she “bounced around from major to major based on what others felt she would be good at.”
This led her to consider other majors up to five times.
Like Tiso-Pagani, many students have a hard time committing to one major and often resort to what people close to them think they would be good at. A problem with that is that no one knows yourself better than you do, and by letting someone else decide that for you, you are essentially putting your future in the hands of someone else.
There are several reasons why someone may be indecisive about a major or currently in one that they are not passionate about. Parental pressure, scared of failure, sticking to a major that has a more “realistic” success rate after graduation or simply because of lack of exploration are only some of common reasons that have many students unhappy.
“Many times they take advice from parents or family members that say you should be a nurse or you should be an accountant so they choose that major,” LaDore says, “but they realize that they’re not good with numbers or they don’t like blood, so they change their major knowing ‘this is not what I want to do.’ ”
Southern encourages students to explore their options by taking intro classes and general education courses earlier on in their education career rather than later.
General education courses are designed so that students are able to get a feel for different subjects. This way, students get the chance to experience different fields before settling on one that they are passionate about.
“One of the things we strongly suggest students do in their first two years is take general education courses and some major courses so if they change their major those courses don’t go to waste,” LaDore says. “If you change your major your junior year could be here an extra year or an extra two years depending what major you go from and to.”
Deciding on a major comes with a list of requirements and classes that a student must complete in order to graduate with a degree. It is important to remember that a major does not lead to a specific job, rather it helps students obtain qualifications and knowledge in a specific area that is applicable to several related work fields.
Corin Fuller, a senior communication major since her freshman year, is confident that obtaining a bachelor’s degree in communication has provided her with all of the practice and knowledge she needs in order to become successful post-graduation.
Fuller says she feels that she has all the tools needed to be successful when she graduates.
She says she has become a confident speaker and graphic designer, and feels ready for the next step in life.
It is important for students to keep an open mind when it comes to thinking about their future when working toward a major.
Cynthia Colon, English major with a concentration in professional writing, has always been an English major, and like Fuller, she is very happy with it. However, her intentions with the use of her major changed as she explored different classes.
“I originally intended on using my English degree for law school. In taking the writing classes required for my major,” she says. “I began falling in love with writing itself, and considered a career in journalism instead.”
Colon says she sees herself becoming successful with her degree because it is what she loves to do.
Before declaring a major in college, it is important to explore many available options.
Make sure you are happy studying your major for however long it takes to obtain the degree you need, and that your work career post college will be one that you are happy in. If your major is one that you are passionate and interested in, then with hard work and dedication, success will follow.
“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it,” Colon says. “If you don’t know what does feel right yet, that’s OK. Get to know yourself, and then decide.”
By Laryssa Rosada and Matt Gad