How to Choose a College Major If You're Undecided

Padya Paramita

How to Choose a College Major If You're Undecided

As you’re applying to colleges, there are a lot of different decisions to make and boxes to check. One of these is thinking about what you want to major in. While the major you select on the Common Application isn’t set in stone (unless you’re applying to a specific school within a university, and even then you can change your major within the school itself), it’s helpful for your admissions officers to see what you’ve chosen as your major so that they can evaluate your application accordingly.  Since it’s a big decision, the question of how to choose a major might be difficult to answer. To guide you through the process, we’ve provided you with different criteria to consider as you choose the right college major.

Think About Where Your Interests Lie

When wondering how to choose a college major, it’s important first and foremost your primary academic interests—think about which classes you’ve enjoyed the most and what subjects you can see yourself pursuing over the next four years. You’re going to be taking a lot of classes in your major, so it’s best to think about what you won’t get sick of! Your major could also be connected to your extracurricular activities. For example, if you’ve spent a lot of time in debate or Model UN, you might go the political science route. Or, if you’re a teacher in your free time, you might consider an education major.

What Are Your Academic Strengths?

It’s important to consider which subjects your talents lie. Are you particularly stronger in one area over others? If you are applying as a prospective engineering major, colleges won’t have a good impression of you if your Physics or Math grades are weak. On the other hand, you also have to have taken the subject—if you say you wish to be a psychology major, make sure you take AP Psych and do well in it. When thinking about how to choose a college major, remember that colleges want to make sure you’re actually interested in and good at the subject area.

Go Even More Specific Than That

Think about your niche interest within a field. Thousands of students will apply as engineering majors to a school. The more specific you get within the field, the better. It’s important to understand how different colleges have separated subjects and topics within your chosen field. Feel free to list separate majors for your different schools. If one of your colleges has “Biology,” but another has a more specific “Molecular Biology” and that’s your specific interest where you’ve conducted research and done independent projects, you should list the latter for schools where it’s applicable. 

Think About Your Future Career

This one aligns with a lot of the other criteria. If you’re interested in a particular career in the future, your major could be connected to the field. While you don’t necessarily have to be a biology major to go to medical school—and instead take pre-med requirements—it’s still important to choose a subject that can support you in your future career. So, graduate school, law school, medical school, or an MBA is a future plan for you, consider what major would benefit you for succeeding in that route four or more years from now. And if you want to go to a career that requires a certain knowledge base, make sure you gain that skill set. For example, a lot of journalism jobs might want English majors. Teaching jobs might want education majors. And so on.

Consider Your Application Persona

Your application persona is the theme of your various application components. If your subjects and extracurriculars point to one thing, but your choice of major points to other, colleges will be highly confused. If your profile demonstrates that you’re a STEM-focused student, don’t put “History” as your primary choice of major. At the same time, think about the college you’re applying to.  If you’re a humanities-focused student, don’t apply primarily to STEM schools. As an English major, you won’t benefit much from a school like Georgia Tech.

Most importantly, when thinking about the factor of how to choose a college major, don’t pick undecided! Remember, indecisiveness doesn’t look good on an application. Even if you might not know exactly which school or which major the future holds for you, you definitely have your interests, strengths, and goals. Use our blog to guide you through finding the perfect major for you and request a consultation if you want our admissions experts’ support in helping you find your niche. Hopefully, your courses, activities, and essays support your choice and help admissions officers understand how you would fit into the classroom and contribute to the classroom. Good luck!

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