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How to choose a college major
by Jenna Evans (Student)

I was not sure what college major to choose.  When you are in your late teens you are not supposed to know what career to choose.  From personal experience, I have changed my major at least 3 times before I had an idea as to what I wanted to do.  Here are some tips.  First off, you do not have to choose a major for a life career.  I was under the impression that your major meant your job or eventual life career.  I thought that upon choosing a certain background, I was stuck within the field of that particular background for life.  This is understandable.  Society often creates an aura around stereotypes.  We have mis-perceptions about careers actually becoming a major part of someone's true personality.  Society leads us to believe, in general, that you look and act a certain way based on your profession.  Notions such as this are just not true.  My personal background is in health care.  People usually envision a hospital employee as 'clean cut' so to speak.  I cannot even begin to explain how many times I was shocked to find out how strict the dress code was due to the fact that employees were constantly violating it.  I learned fast at my job that not everyone looks like Patrick Dempsey as 'McDreamy' in Grey's Anatomy, so please ignore stereotypes.  What I also did not realize was that people of all ages can change their career path at any time.  I always hear stories of people that grew tired of the same routine and successfully began another field of work.  Often, just the fact that a degree is obtained grants you the ability to choose from a wide spectrum of possible jobs.  For example, with a B.A. in Communications you can do anything from working at a company with standard day time hours to working in the area of sales that includes extensive traveling.  There also exists the fact that many companies will offer you tuition reimbursement for forwarding your education while working for that company.  This supports the fact that you are not stuck career wise with a certain degree.  In fact, a degree can be viewed as a stepping stone.  Second, your major has to be something that you are interested in.  If you do not have a desire or interest in your major, unfortunately your grades will begin to reflect this.  Lack of interest leads to lack of motivation.  Motivation is the key to undergraduate success.  I have personally met students that were so involved with their studies due to the strong interest in their major, that they were able to graduate early.  There is no set time limit that you have to obtain a bachelor's degree either.  I was always under the understanding that a bachelor's degree takes a typical four years to complete.  This is not the case.  Sometimes this goal can take less time, or even more time dependent upon your major.  A good example of this is that many times when choosing a major medically related, a clinical rotation is required separate from actual in class courses.  The clinical rotation can add an additional 3-6 months onto the time it takes to complete the degree.  This may sound discouraging; however the extra time really pays off.  Often hiring organizations will view this as on the job training accounting for true job experience.  For me, this meant that I had an advantage over other students that choose major's not requiring any type of hands on rotation.  Not that a major including only classes is bad, I just felt lucky to have had the opportunity to gain the experience which still attending college full time.  Third, when choosing a major do not be intimidated by the courses required for that particular major.  Many course descriptions do not seem to be updated.  After reading the description, a class like Calculus II sounded impossible.  Just remember that a course like this is a continuation of several previous courses taken already to lead up to it.  All of the math prerequisites just made this class a continuation of my previous Calculus I class, which was a continuation of Pre-Calculus.  When courses are explained in this scenario, the reality of taking them is not that bad.  If you are finding a course difficult, there is the tutoring center which is free and always helps.  You also can take fewer courses during the fall or spring and make up for them in the summer.  This is the route that I chose.  I found summer courses were shorter and more relaxing.  I was able to not be overwhelmed during both fall and spring semesters, and still enjoy my summer with the flexibility of class offerings.  Choose the right course load that works best for you.  Finally, your major needs to make you feel like you are accomplishing goals.  Several students that I have met choose 'any major just to graduate'.  This is great if you have no interest in forwarding your education, or even care about the major associated with your degree.  However, many job interviews I have been on ask why I chose my course of study.  Keep that in mind.  Also try to have an open mind.  Feel free to contact others that may have been in your shoes.  I suggest you talk with seniors within your college, or even professors for guidance.  Several of your high school teachers can lend you a hand too.  Contacting my high school biology teacher helped me personally because she knew how I had a passion for the sciences, but did not like math.  She suggested that I try something in the medical field.  I trusted her advice.  You have to take into account that your high school teachers really got to know you better since you were in their classes for nine months out of the year.  A college professor will probably only have you in his/her class for fifteen weeks.  I hope this helps.  Good luck with your journey in choosing the right major.

Author:
Jenna Evans (Student)

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