Exploring College Majors

Physics. Psychology. Engineering. Computer Science. Photography. Business. Oh my!

Choosing a college major can be a daunting task. Throughout high school students are introduced to various subjects, electives, and extracurricular options which can help them begin to narrow down their interests, but choosing a focus for college is still intimidating.

What if my student is “undecided”?

The truth is, many colleges are happy to admit students who are “undecided” (we like to say “multi-interested”) and guide to choose within the first few semesters. Apply to colleges that have a few majors that interest them. Why? 80% of students change their major in college*! It’s best to have attractive options once you’re there! If you’re undecided, don’t shy away from researching college majors, instead dig in deep to learn what your options might be! 

Where to start?

Beyond internships, informational interviews, and summer programs, a great way to explore majors is through the descriptions and curriculum described via the college’s websites. 

Major descriptions or summaries can offer insight into the particular industries or careers that are associated with that major. It can also provide clarification into what the major actually entails (majors like finance and economics are often hard for high school students to differentiate but they are quite different!) This webpage might also highlight research opportunities, special programs (i.e. study abroad) and bios of recent graduates with this major. 

As far as curriculum, universities can approach the exact same major in very different ways sometimes. 

Here are two examples of business degree requirements. Can you spot the differences? 

Business Management: Purdue U

Global Business Management: Babson College

Notice how the schools have different coursework, degree plans, and concentration areas. This is common for many majors between different schools. For example, one school’s science programs may emphasize research and writing, while another may only require a minimal amount of composition-based coursework. One college’s engineering program may include entrepreneurial or business courses, while a different university has an exclusively STEM curriculum. The best fit for you is based on your interests and goals. Students who are still trying to determine a major may want a college that offers mostly “basics” for the first year; others may want to jump right into their area of study!

Use the major descriptions and curriculums to help you determine what sounds like a good fit.

This short video will guide you step-by-step through the method I use to help students research college majors!

*According to NCES 2017. Varies by major.

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