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The Major Dilemma


The Major Dilemma

I’m sure you are beyond tired of people asking you, “what is your major?” This question may be especially vexing if you’re current response is TBD. Well I am here to tell you that you are not alone, you really aren’t!  According to the Education Advisory Board[1],  three out of every four students will change their major at least once.

Most careers do not require a specific major, and are more concerned if you have a degree; not necessarily what it is in. Embrace your clean slate and try taking some electives while completing your cornerstone requirements (if these are required for graduation). Before you know it, you may have found something you didn’t even realize you were interested in. Take me for example, I started off as a neuroscience major and ended in religious studies all because of world religions class I was required to take as a freshman.

Life experiences are just as important as your study and will help determine your career path. If you think you might be interested in a certain field, try getting an internship first. If an internship is too much of a commitment, consider job shadowing someone in that industry. I knew I was interested in nonprofit work, so I started volunteering regularly at a local organization. Believe me when I say it will be worth figuring out if you like something early on, or even more important if you don’t like something. Furthermore, people change jobs all the time, so your first job most definitely does not need to be the end of your career journey.

While it’s okay and perfectly normal not to know your future, that doesn’t mean you can take a back seat. In addition to classes and hands-on experiences, you should also seek out a mentor. Utilize the resources that your university has available to you, like your academic advisor. Don’t just attend obligatory meetings with your advisor but make a point to touch base with them on a regular basis. If you feel like this person is not helpful, then request someone else – after all this is your future, and you are the only one who can own it!

Another resource that I took advantage of was my college’s career services.  Not only will they assist with resume building and program exploration, but they can also help you to get to know yourself  better. How, might you ask? Many career services offer a career/personality test and free assessment. My university had one called the Strong Interest Inventory. While it is important not to put yourself in a box, it can be a useful tool for providing a reference point to better understand yourself and your likes/dislikes. Many of these resources are also available online[2].

While you may feel like you are the only one who doesn’t have things figured out, this sentiment is far from the truth. Many of your peers are not as certain as they think they are, but the act of declaring a major merely provides them a sense of comfort. Speaking as a seasoned young adult, I can tell you that I am still figuring out my life path. My last piece of advice: follow your passions, and never stop pushing yourself. If you can align your personal strengths with your likes, you will find yourself in a job you love.


Nicole Santarsiero is  a team member at College Success Arizona.  Nicole has a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Religious Studies from Stonehill College in Massachusetts, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), from the University of Massachusetts.




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