Written by Brenna Norris
It is time.
Well, you’ve finally made it to the big times: Senior Year. Hopefully you spent the summer slowly but steadily working on your college application, and now you are stuck with that giant question looming over your head: WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?
Picking a single college major can often feel like a daunting task. How will you know it’s the right one? What if you want to study two majors and can’t decide? Will you end up having to be in college for twice as long? To be fair, most of us adults probably also went through this conundrum, so here’s some advice to help you figure out what to do.
Regardless of the options, your best first step will be to talk directly with course counselors before you make any firm decisions. These counselors will know the best way to maximize your time so that you don’t take unnecessary coursework that will just drag out the time you spend in college. Even if you are just at the application stage, you can still email many of these departments to get a sense of how feasible these options might be, and they can even give you a rough estimate of how long you would need to be in school to complete your education goals.
Weigh Your Options
If you can narrow your choices down to two majors, there is always the option of double majoring. Depending on the subjects, you could find that many of the General Ed requirements (which all majors will have) could overlap each other, meaning you save yourself extra work and still get to have both majors. However, this might only work if you are studying two topics that are different from one another, such as a humanities topic (i.e sociology, history, writing) and a science topic (i.e. biology, engineering, or chemistry).
If you are stuck between two more similar majors (maybe computer engineering and chemical engineering), there might also be specific classes that satisfy the requirements for both, which is where you could save yourself time from having to take similar classes twice.
This option will probably take longer to complete, but you will finish college with two degrees.
If you have a strong first choice major and a slightly secondary one, there is always the option to major in your first choice and minor in the second. This will allow you to focus on your major classes but still gain enough educational experience that you could apply for jobs related to your minor. Depending on the field, there are plenty of career options that are happy to work with newly minted graduates that minored in their industry (although this can vary greatly, so do a little research ahead of time).
This option will be the quicker way to get through college, and you might still be able to have some course overlap.
At the end of the day, going to college is all about giving you a foundational education in a topic that you are hoping to turn into a career. If you haven’t already, it can be extremely helpful to do the following:
-spend a few hours searching Google for ideas on what you can do career-wise with different degrees
-search sites like Indeed or LinkedIn for job postings with that title and review what specific majors and experience they will want and use that as your focus in college
Things May Change
Of course, there is always the chance that the plan you had for college can change. Speaking as someone who had a firm view of their career future until a few chemistry courses thoroughly crushed that vision, you can start college with one plan and finish with an entirely different one. While I wish I could have gone the direction a five-year-old me had always dreamed of, the reality is that it simply wasn’t viable. Being able to switch quickly showed me I can pull myself out of a fire, still making a good decision about my future.
The most important thing to keep in mind while you are making these decisions is to always have a backup plan that you can be happy with. Adopting a lifelong learning attitude will take you further than any four year degree. College is perhaps the single best time in life to explore and try new things. If you can maintain a sense of flexibility, then you can craft yourself a future that fits you perfectly.