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What About My College Major?

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What is a major? It’s a course of study which a college asks each of its students to declare, usually by the end of their sophomore year. A major will prescribe certain courses, some prerequisites, that is, necessary courses, to take before the more specific courses a student will have to take in his or her last two years. Such prerequisites are usually more general courses. A student may need to take a history course and two language courses before he may start taking specific coursers for the study of Modern history, or a student may need to take a lab course and calculus before she begins the study of molecular biology.

The problem is some colleges will ask you to declare a major when you apply as a first-year student. That can cause real anxiety. What do I want to do when I grow up? Am I expected to know this now!!

No, not really. You have to take a deep breath. There may, indeed, be majors that are so involved or intense you will need to take many specific courses and have to start early, but that is not often the case. So think about declaring a major in a more practical sense.

One, you will probably need two years to explore courses under more general guidelines to figure out what you are interested in.

Two, remember that many professions like law, medicine, or graduate degrees in areas such as business really only require general majors like English or science. Even in most professional careers management expects to train their employees in the first few years on the job.

Three, a chosen major and a final degree do not lock you into a job. Labor Department statistics prove people change jobs every 5 years on average and even change career fields two or more times in their life times.

And, finally, for that college that asked you to declare a major up front, know that you can change that major. No one expects a student first entering college will know exactly what s/he wants to do the rest if his/her life in their senior year of high school.

Go with your talents and interests, read about careers and what kinds of backgrounds help, and check out The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Choosing a College Major and an on-line survey that may help you figure out what major could fit for you. Then don’t worry.

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