Choosing your major study can be both exciting and intimidating. Some students enter their university knowing exactly what they want to study, while others are unsure. Even if you think you know what you want to study, you should still take advantage of the exceptionally broad range of classes that are available in college.
Almost all universities have general education requirements, meaning that you must take a certain number of classes in different academic disciplines, to achieve a well-rounded education before you graduate. These required classes are an excellent opportunity to discover new areas of study, especially during your first year. Since you haven’t completed any credits yet (or very few with your AP classes), any class you take will fulfill a requirement you need to graduate.
If You Already Know What You Want to Study
It is understandable if you are eager to immediately get started on your major, especially if you are already certain about what you want to study; however, don’t let this deter you from selecting what might feel like a random class or two when you first get to college. If you want to be a Physics major, consider taking a Latin American Studies or Sociology class. Even if it doesn’t change your mind about your intended major, you will have broadened your academic horizons, and you may find an additional area you want to study. At the very least, you will fulfill a general education requirement.
Don’t be afraid to change your major if you discover a new area that intrigues you after you start your college classes. It’s important to be genuinely invested in what you study as it will make you more motivated to succeed and find extracurricular opportunities which will benefit you in the future. Changing your major is not a marker of failure, but rather a symbol of maturity! Allow yourself to be open and curious to the wealth of disciplines in college so that you can study what intrigues you the most.
If You Don’t Know What You Want to Study
While entering college “undecided” can be a bit scary, it also means that you have endless possibilities for your major. Taking a variety of classes in subjects that interest you is a good place to start. If you liked your history classes in high school, try a history class about a topic you enjoyed, or branch out and try a political science or art history course. Additionally, pick a class outside of anything you have studied before. Having a diverse schedule your first semester will help you discover what type of major you are interested in (sciences, arts, etc.) as well as which topics interest you the most.
In addition to taking a variety of classes, look at the major requirements for majors you are considering. Do most these classes look interesting to you? Maybe you took a biology class about animal behavior that you enjoyed; however, if the biology major requires a lot of cellular biology and you were interested in behavior, you may want to explore the psychology department instead. Departments will also post all their possible course listings on their websites. Look through the electives that would be available to you and see what sparks your interest. Lastly, if you are interested in doing research or studying abroad, browse these opportunities in the departments you are considering. And remember, you can always double major!
Alice is a senior at Emory University, pursuing a B.S. in Biology and minor in Dance and Movement Studies. As a tutor, she works to develop critical and analytical thinking skills with students. She believes it is crucial to teach a thorough understanding of the material rather than formulaic memorization. She believes in paying careful attention to the ways students learn to then utilize their skills to help them succeed.