Choosing the right undergraduate course for you
Deciding on what you want to study at university can seem overwhelming and intimidating. Whether that be declaring a major for those of you in the US, or choosing your course as a 17-year-old in sixth form in the UK. We all experience these feelings of uncertainty. This is just a small guide to finding the best major for you to maximize your University experience and have fun as well!
Get to Know Yourself
What do you absolutely love to do? What are you interested in studying more? Do you like to work with young children, or do you prefer to paint? Do you love learning about molecular biology or have a passion for violin? Having an interest is the most important aspect of deciding what you want to pursue or study, even when you might be challenging yourself. Because if you are doing work you actually care about then you’ll have more motivation to pursue those studies. I want to emphasize that even if you don’t think you are talented enough, try anyway. Take a class, talk with an advisor, and be open to learning.
Hone into your hobbies
Often so many students are under the impression that a specific talent or hobby they practice could never equate to a career when in fact that is just not true. Find what sparks joy for you and discover how you can study that at your school or continue to learn outside of University. Even if you don’t see your talent as a career, you could always do the minor to continue practicing that interest. For example, I love storytelling whether filming, writing scripts, short stories, or poetry, although this might not be a potential career for me, having Creative Writing or Film as a minor could add more diversity to my class schedule and break up the monotony.
3. Look at what your school has to offer
With every University there can be a long list of specialties and majors of study. Make sure to look through your school’s catalog to find the required classes for a major and consider carefully if this would fit your interests. Additionally, if your school does not have a major, find out if you could potentially customize your own curated major with classes from majors you have an interest in. For example, My sister plans to break into the animation industry and her own major would be Muti-disciplinary storytelling using both the Film major classes as well as the Art major!
4. Take a variety of classes
When first starting out in University, make sure you take a variety of classes so you can find what you are truly interested in without limiting yourself to one umbrella. Take a sociology class, talk with students in journalism and communications, and even try coding. You really never know what is going to stand out to you and what could be your newfound potential career.
5. Volunteer and Intern
So maybe you don’t have time to explore all the amazing classes your school offers. The next best thing is to volunteer or intern with a program or organization within a field you are looking to pursue. Having the opportunity to experience the real-world aspects of that profession can really put into perspective the demands and rewards. Even more so than any class, an internship can allow you to put theory into practice and recognize if the particular experience is for you.
6. Talk to Advisors and Professionals
The best source to go to when asking questions about majors, and minors and exploring careers is your advisors. Talk with your academic advisors about potential majors or minors. Have conversations with Department professors to learn more about the classes that are offered and topics that interest you. Learn the process to declare a major or minor and plan ahead to what classes you want to take.
Start off with connecting with upperclassmen at your University as well as recent alumni, hearing their experiences can help you navigate what you want to do. If your school does not offer a place for student and alumni connections. Turn to the internet!
Linkedin is an amazing place to connect with professionals. If you are interested in a particular field don’t be afraid to reach out and ask them for advice to break into a particular industry.
Finally, Don't worry too much.
First and foremost I must emphasize that declaring a major doesn’t mean there is a rigid box that you are confined to. You may graduate with a major in International business then realize your passion for education and continue your education journey to getting a Masters. Really at the end of the day, making the most out of your University experience is what matters. Making those connections, building relationships with fellow students, faculty, and professors as well as gaining experience in different fields. Your major does not define who you are nor does this limit what you can do. All of your experience is valuable and can be used within the workforce no matter what field you go into after university!