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How to Choose Your Major

Posted on 11/6/2020 1:30:17 PM by Amber Berkheimer

For me, it was considerably difficult to decide on my major. I am a very indecisive person, and to potentially choose what you want to do for the rest of your life is a daunting task to assign a 17-year-old high school senior. When I was applying to colleges, I thought about everything from English to Psychology to Exercise Science. I found that I was interested in so many different things, and I could see myself in so many different career paths that had nothing to do with each other. I soon found ways to navigate this sometimes tricky experience.

My biggest piece of advice would be to be open-minded with new experiences. Sometimes, the best things can happen when you least expect it. During my junior year of high school, I was almost certain that I wanted to be an English major. I planned to teach English or write for a major company. This all changed during the summer going into my senior year. My high school gave incoming seniors an opportunity to complete a summer internship in order to obtain extra credits towards graduation. The list of possible internships included reading to children at a local library, helping at a nursing home, and working at a funeral home. I almost decided against it until I saw that there was an opportunity to shadow attorneys and work at a law firm. This was the most appealing internship for me, so I applied. Little did I know this would change my mind entirely and point me in a new direction for my major and for what I want to do after graduation. I had never considered this line of work, but I fell in love instantly. I loved going to trials with the lawyers and watching arbitrations. I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer.

What ultimately led me to select my current majors, Criminology, and Sociology, was a criminal lawyer who was one of my mentors. I was so interested in what she did, and I found it exciting every day when we would go to court. I picked Criminology because I want to have background knowledge in the Criminal Justice system and know more about why criminals commit crimes before I eventually enroll in law school, to hopefully become a criminal lawyer myself. Had I not taken this internship and taken a leap of faith with something I was unfamiliar with, I would have never known that this is truly what I want to do with my life. So, jump the fence and experience learning about something out of your comfort zone, and you very well may end up finding your major through it.

Another piece of advice is to take online aptitude and personality tests to determine what careers and majors best fit your personality. These tests provide so much insight into what you would likely be successful in the future. The results can sometimes be surprising, but to me, that’s the best part. Many people are more inclined to choose a major based solely on how much money they could make and not how genuinely happy they would be in the career field. I think it is important to choose a major that makes you happy, not just something that will earn you a lot of money. Sure, the financial aspect is nice, but you’ll be working in this career path for 40+ years after graduation, and I assure you, you do not want to be doing something that makes you miserable, even if it earns you a good sum of money. To take these tests, Google “Career Aptitude Test.”

Another good way to explore your interests and choose a major is to take a wide variety of high school classes. Don’t just register for classes that you think would be easy or that you know you are familiar with. Go outside of what you would usually choose and take a variety of classes in humanities or science. This way, you can discover new interests and figure out if one of those classes really speaks to you. By the time I graduated, I had taken classes in journalism, environmental science, government, and computer science, just to name a few.

Choosing many different classes that I was unfamiliar with gave me an advantage, even when I started at Cabrini. I took the AP exams for four of my classes between junior year and senior year, and I started college with an entire semester worth of credits! When you give yourself options, not only will you be able to get a better idea of what your major could potentially end up being, but you could get yourself out of taking numerous college classes in a range of subjects.

Choosing a major is never easy, and there is no need to feel rushed when figuring out what might be right for you. At Cabrini, you do not need to declare a major right away, and you can come in undecided if you need some more time. Many of my friends are still undecided or have already switched their majors, so don’t feel that you are at a disadvantage if you are still not sure!