My name is Megan Osman and I am a University of Utah alumna. I graduated cum laude with a Bachelors of Arts in English. While attending college, I worked fulltime as an Operations Coordinator for an IT staffing firm, while also completing internships in book editing and hospitality.
Choosing a major is a difficult decision that will impact the college you choose to attend as well as, your overall experience and success. This can seem quite daunting especially when there are hundreds of options from which to choose. According to a study completed by ACT in 2013, “only about 1/3 of high school graduates selected a major that fit with their interest…32 percent selected a major that was a poor fit…”
Before declaring your major, be sure that it will be a good fit by researching the different degree options to determine not only the type of career options you will have, but also the courses that are required, and the likelihood of finding a job post-graduation in that particular field. While the degree may sound interesting, you may find that the courses do not match with your interests or the market is full of unemployed students with the same degree. This information will help you make decisions about potential minors or other degrees that will help you find your niche and differentiate you from the other graduates.
It is important to plan ahead so that you can make better use of you time and have a more pleasant college experience. For instance, if you plan to pursue a degree in English and want to earn a minor in Creative Writing, planning will help you determine which classes you should take to ensure that the focus of your major supports this path. You may also find that some of your classes overlap and the credits may be applied to both degrees. This will save you both time and money.
If you do find yourself in the 32 percent that choose a major that does not ultimately fit with your interests, don’t panic. Part of the college experience is exploring yourself and it may take you a little while to determine what path you want to take. So while it is important to plan, it is also important to stay flexible. You may take a course that you find particularly interesting and, perhaps, you will decide to shift focus. Or maybe you entered college “Undecided,” taking a few courses may help you to determine what you are interested in. With hundreds of majors to choose from it is likely that you may decide to change your major during the course of your college career. In fact, according to the University of Wisconsin, 80% of college students aren’t sure if they have selected the right major.
One way you can plan while also staying flexible to change is to plan your course schedule to include both general courses and degree specific courses. This will allow you to sample some of the courses in your field, while also taking courses that are required regardless of your major. If you do decide to change majors you won’t be starting over completely. If money is an issue there are also options to audit a class to determine if want to pay for them.
The college experience is an exciting time that allows you the opportunity to develop skills that will help you be successful in the real world. Take the time to discover what really interests you and set a plan that will help you succeed. Understanding where you are and where you want to be both short term and long term will help you make these decisions, while being flexible is also important as college is a time of self discovery and growth.