Selecting a Major: How to Narrow Down Your Options

By Lauren Elrick


Chances are, you've probably been hearing a lot about college lately. Once you hit high school, the world of college, majors, careers, and your future all become hot topics, and suddenly, it might start to feel like you have a hefty weight of decision on your shoulders. If your world currently revolves around Friday's big football game, your math test tomorrow, and what to wear to prom (or who to take!), you're not alone. If you feel blindsided by all the college talk, not to worry-there's a way to sort through it all! Slowly but surely, all the conversation about careers and majors will start to feel a little more normal.

It's true that determining what you want to study means choosing a degree, which can have a big impact on the school you choose. Not only that, but you're choosing where you want to live for the next season of your life. Combine that with passing tests, making sure to get good grades, touring schools, applying for scholarships, and writing application essays, and the whole affair can start to feel a little overwhelming.

The truth is, what you choose to study at college is a very important part of life, but it shouldn't be something that overwhelms you with stress. Truth be told, the process can actually be enjoyable-exciting in fact! There are a lot of good things headed your way, and we're here to help walk alongside you and provide some tips and tricks for narrowing down what you want to choose as a major and pursue later in life.

Your step-by-step guide to choosing what to study at college

1. Take notice of your skills and strengths

Have you always been skilled at baking elaborate desserts for birthday parties? Are you a pro long boarder? Is pinpointing the next fashion trend easy for you? Whether it's your tendency to assist children in learning new words while you're babysitting or your aptitude for soaring through math problems, the things you're good at usually translate into a field of study.

It's equally as important to take note of where you don't excel, and it's important to remember that everyone has both strengths and weaknesses. If adding up change at your summer retail job is frustrating and takes you a long time, maybe an accounting major isn't for you. If you're great at drawing beautiful doodles on your homework but struggle to make it through a book, you might be more set up for a major in graphic design versus the study of writing and literature.

2. What do you love?

Where your natural strengths meet your passions is the triumphant intersection that could equal your potential field of study. There's no substitute for doing what you love and learning more about things that fascinate you-learning will come more naturally this way too, and you'll find yourself excited to pursue a career in your chosen field. if you're an avid bookworm, study literature! If you're obsessed with sports and are interested in healthcare, perhaps a major in sports physical therapy is for you.

Sometimes we're skilled at something that we don't actually love to do, so if you're great at gardening but could care less if the plants actually live, you should probably steer clear of any sort of horticultural degree.

3. It's not just about academics

It's important to look beyond what type of book learning you're good at. Do you have a high emotional IQ? Are you easily empathetic, skilled at keeping mature emotional boundaries, and a confidante to many? Majoring in counseling might be a good fit for you, then.

How you interact with people and how you learn all weigh in on what you decide to study. If you're more extroverted than introverted, you might be more drawn to a degree in sales than a degree in chemistry or computer programming. If you're more free spirited, a major you can easily turn into a freelance job later on in life could be a good fit for you. Learn about yourself, and ask your family, friends, and teachers what they observe about you.

4. Experiment and try new things

One of the best things about college is all the room you have to spread your wings. There is so much space to get your feet wet and try out a variety of different activities, classes, and clubs. Just because you're majoring in ministry doesn't mean you can't take a few art classes, and even though you might be sold on public relations as a future career, you never know where trying out for a fall musical or the volleyball team will lead you.

Many college students end up changing their major more than once, and it's important that you're willing to roll with the transition in order to discover the best fit for you!

Capitalize on your interests and strengths

For most people, it takes a while to discover what you both love and are good at. So don't fret when you can't decide what major you want to pursue right away. If you feel really stuck deciding, choose something that relates closely to what you enjoy, and don't worry about if it will make you lots of money in the future. From there, you can start classes and feel out if the subject matter is up your alley.

The more classes you take and activities you participate in, the more you'll slowly narrow down the right degree for you.