Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Tell if You are in the Right Major!

There are many college majors to pick from and it's important to find the right major for you. How do you know you're on the right path?

By Patricia Roy — November 11, 2022


Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Tell if You are in the Right Major!

Am I in the Right Major?

Okay, freshmen. Real talk. It's been a month since you started this crazy college journey. You have a new school, new friends, and new routines, all for the purpose of expanding your mind and career prospects. How do you know you're on the right path? Specifically, how do you know you are in the right major?

Some of you haven't even taken a course in your field yet. That's okay. Taking core learning or general education courses during your first few semesters is common. Whether you've taken some major classes yet or not, it's never too early to do these Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Tell if You are in the Right Major!

Research Jobs in Your Field

You might have already done this when applying to college, but it doesn't hurt to revisit these steps, especially if you have misgivings about your career choice.

1. Use both the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Career Outlook page published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS is a valuable resource for job seekers and students who want to know about job trends in their industry both nationally and by state and/or region. It covers the current job outlook, job growth, pay, and much more.

Use the OOH to become accustomed to the occupation groups as not all majors correspond to job titles. Some majors might provide opportunities across categories. For instance, a history major could become a teacher (Education, Training and Library) but might also pursue a career in politics or economics (Life, Physical, and Social Science). This publication also provides data for specific occupations by allowing you to search by median pay, education or training required, the projected number of new jobs, and the projected growth rate. You can also see which jobs are the highest paying, fastest growing, or available by degree.

You may think that following your bliss is the only thing you need to consider. Following your passion is important, but you should go into a competitive or low-growth field with your eyes open. Having this information can help you make strategic decisions to maximize your likelihood of success. The Career Outlook guide offers a more qualitative look at the same occupation topics. While the OOH favors data, the CO contextualizes the information into infographics and articles. Most career coaches recommend the OOH, but the CO may be more accessible.

2. Visit the Career Center on Campus.

If you find the BLS site to be an information overload, or if you want to talk with someone about your interests, go to the career center. You might have to make an appointment to talk with someone at length, but it doesn't hurt to show up and ask about their services. Most career centers can help you write a resume and cover letter, apply for jobs, practice interview techniques, or take skills and personality tests to determine if your major is right for you. Choose the career center if you want more personal interaction.

3. Schedule a Meeting with a Professor in Your Major.

I would especially recommend talking with a Dean or Department Chair. You can usually schedule an appointment with the administrative assistant in the department office, or you might reach out to a current professor. Of course, you can always talk with your advisor, but not all advisors work in the field they advise. For instance, I was an advisor for Event Management majors, but I taught English. Scheduling a meeting with someone who teaches in the field can answer questions like:

  • What kinds of jobs are graduates of this program getting?
  • In addition to courses, what skills do you think are most important?
  • What kind of a person succeeds in this field?
  • Will I need to get certified or an advanced degree?
  • Are people happy in this field?

4. Talk to Older Students or Recent Graduates from Your Major.

Some departments have a welcome event early in the school year for exactly this purpose. If not, ask around. Students will be very honest about their impressions. Other schools might have honor societies or extracurricular activities for their majors. Meeting others in your field will help you feel less alone in making your decisions, especially if you haven't had a class in the major yet.

Research Yourself: Going Within

You can read all the data and interview all the professors in your major, but in the end, you have to listen to your gut. But how do you do that? I suggest that you add this next step to balance data with feelings and intuition.

5. Clear Your Mind/Meditate.

We can't always think our way out of a predicament. Overthinking may cause insomnia and grey hair, but it won't lead to good decision-making. Sometimes you need to get out of your head.

There are many ways to interrupt overthinking, such as exercise or being in nature, both of which I heartily endorse. But I will suggest a meditation or mindfulness practice focused on decision-making. Making such a practice a part of your daily routine will improve your ability to think overall.

Daily meditation doesn't need to be very long; ten minutes in the morning or ten minutes before bedtime is enough to encourage mental and emotional relaxation. Don't try to control your thoughts; slow them down by not getting wrapped up in them. Try instead to focus on your breath. You don't need to breathe any particular way but notice it. Feel the air at the tip of your nostrils or the rising and falling of your chest. When thoughts pop up — and they always do — return your attention to your breath.

Once you get used to sitting quietly, you can add more time or try a visualization exercise. The most important thing is to be calm, curious, and consistent with your practice. The sensations of your body, feelings, and thoughts can all lead to valuable insights you could never have learned by reading statistics. Eventually, you will know what you need to do in your body and mind.

Now that you've unclouded your mind and done your research, you're ready for success in a major you love.

Patricia Roy

Patricia Roy

Patricia Roy is a writer and professor who has helped students succeed for over 25 years. She started her career as a high school English teacher and then moved into higher education at Tuition Rewards member school, Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts. Her practical guidance and enthusiasm motivate and inspire students to fearlessly explore their own passions. Professor Roy is also a freelance writer and published poet.
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