Miranda is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Northern Arizona University (NAU) . She graduated from NAU in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Political Science and a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. She is a public affairs associate at Hamilton Consulting. Previously, she worked for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, where she coordinated legislative activities and related communications to support chamber initiatives.
Navigating college is difficult. As a newly independent young adult you will be faced with several big decisions that will impact the course of your life.
One of those big decisions that you’ll face: declaring a major.
It’s kind of a big deal, right? Right. Your major decides the classes that you’ll take for the next four (or more) years, dictates the types of internships you will apply for and establishes your career trajectory.
It sounds intimidating, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Even if you choose the “wrong” major, you will still be a college graduate with a valuable set of critical thinking and communication skills—the foundation of almost every collegiate course you have taken and/or will take.
While choosing the “wrong” major isn’t the end of the world, you should put time and consideration into your decisions. Think about your future, your goals and your wants before making the official declaration.
Here are a few specifics to consider before declaring your major:
One of the most important things is that you’re interested in your major. If you aren’t interested in the field of study then you won’t succeed in the classroom, you won’t succeed in your post-college career and you won’t be happy.
When weighing the pros and cons of a major, ask your self these questions:
• Do I find this topic interesting?
• Can I grow and how will I grow in this filed of study?
• Do I have fun in the classes?
• Are the career prospects for this field interesting and diverse?
An extremely important piece of your decision needs to be your graduation goal date. If you don’t currently have a graduation goal date, sit down and establish one. Having a timeline in for your graduation helps you stay and track and minimizes the risk of being a second or third year senior. When declaring a major keep your graduation timeline in mind. Some degree programs take more than four years and others can be accelerated if needed.
While you’re in school, time is money. The sooner you graduate the less money you spend (usually), but other factors can come in to play. That great unpaid internship (we’ve all been there), the once in a lifetime opportunity to live (and study) abroad and that extracurricular activities that either cost you money or limit your ability to have a part-time job. These are all things that have to be apart of your decision making process when thinking about a major and a graduation timeline. Also, keep in mind that some degree programs have higher class and program fees that will increase your overall cost.
When exploring majors (and schools) it’s important to think about what your short-term and long-term goals are for your education, your career and your lifestyle.
Here are some great questions to help get you started:
• What kind of experience are you looking to have during your collegiate career?
• What do you hope to accomplish with your degree?
• What kind of career are you looking for upon graduation?
• What kind of lifestyle do you aspire to? (i.e. What’s more important free time, a predictable schedule, salary or something else?)
Flexibility is perhaps the most important component to consider when declaring a major. Careers and interests change course over the years, you want to select major that will help you go with the flow of your career and handle transitions from area of interest to another. More importantly, you want to possess a diverse skill set when you graduate so that you have a wealth of career options.
Declaring a major is a big deal. It’s stressful and intimidating. But it’s a part of the college experience. And just remember, that as long as you choose a major that works for you and your goals then you’ve made the right choice.