Hey everyone! Last year I wrote a couple of posts sharing my advice for first year university students: both when it comes to living in halls of residence, and actually starting university. This year I am another year older and wiser so I thought I would share my top tips for how to choose your university major.
Picking your major is no easy task, but it is important. These tips are particularly relevant if you are completing a general degree such as a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Commerce. Other degrees with less flexibility (such as Engineering, Medicine, Law or Architecture) are a little different but this tips may help nonetheless.
1. Find a subject that combines your interests, talents & career goals.
The holy trinity. The perfect subject is something that combines what you’re interested and engaged with, what you’re good at, and also sets you up for your desired career path. It can definitely be challenging to find a major that fills all these boxes. If your major ticks two of the boxes then it may lead to the third naturally. For example if you study something you’re good at and interested in, without knowing what career you want to go into, you’ll probably discover the perfect career along the way.
2. Try Different Subjects
The easiest way to find out if a subject should be your major is to give it a go! Try and include a wide range of subjects in your schedule, especially during your first year. It will likely become pretty obvious which subjects are for you and which aren’t so much. If you can’t decide between a couple of subjects, you can always double-major (but just be careful that this doesn’t mean extending your study just to fill requirements). As a Bachelor of Arts student I took papers in eight entirely different subjects over two years before settling on my major and minor (Anthropology and Maori & Indigenous Studies if you were wondering).
3. Pick and Choose the Best of other Subjects
When I was at high school no single subject was really my favourite and I couldn’t see myself studying any one of them at university. I enjoyed the researching and writing aspects of History and English but not the content studied. I also liked the methodical nature of Science and Maths but couldn’t see myself in a STEM career. When I discovered anthropology I knew it was perfect for me, I could research and write to my heart’s content but about fascinating contemporary topics. And as a social science, anthropology shares interesting aspects of structure with pure science. So think about what parts of certain subjects you enjoy and try and finish the puzzle to find the major perfect for you.
4. Think about your future career
Have a think about where you see yourself in 5, 10 or 20 years and the job or career that you want to pursue. Work backwards and think about the steps you might take to get there. If you are certain about a particular career it’ll often be clear what major will set you up for it the best. Make the most of your university’s student services and visit a course planner or adviser for help.
5. Be Prepared to Change Your Mind
The most important advice I can give you about choosing a university major is to be prepared to change your mind. You may decide in six months that you’re heading down a different path and need to change your major to suit, and that’s totally ok! From personal experience not many people finish university with the degree that they planned to do at the start.
I really enjoy writing about university life, so let me know in the comments if there’s any other topics you’d like to see covered!
Image by Picjumbo.