What If I Don’t Know What I Want to Major In?

You’ve been asked since you were still riding a tricycle, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And, as you were able to balance on 2 wheels, you were asked, “What will you major in in college?” This has been drilled into your head, and into your parents’ heads as well. As you head into high school, you ask yourself “What if I don’t know what I want to major in”? The stress, at times, seems insurmountable. I am here to tell you that you are not alone in these thoughts. 95% of high schoolers, like you, have no idea. And why would you? You are a teenager. You have had a structured curriculum through high school, with little choice on what classes you can take.

You have a specific English, history, science and math that is required, most probably, through your junior year in high school, in addition to taking your three years of a foreign language. The fact of the matter is, there is so little opportunity to deeply explore your interests on an academic level prior to graduating high school.

How to Select Colleges When You Don’t Know What Major You Want to Pursue

I get this question more times than I can even count, over and over again: “How can we select the list of colleges for Marcia to apply to if she doesn’t know what she wants to major in?” I’m here to tell you that most colleges, small, medium and large, have a breadth of majors offered. Yes, you heard that correctly. Unless you are going to apply to a STEM specific or fine arts institution, predominantly your interests will be offered.

This all being said, how do you work through selecting your list of colleges from a prospective major standpoint? College search is a time for reflection, understanding your strengths, your challenges, your interests. Everyone has them. No one is deficient in them. Realizing what yours are is an important piece of finding that list of colleges that you will eventually want to apply to. Certainly there are many more things to consider.

You can read our articles listed below to further understand this.

How to Narrow Your College Search

How to Begin Your College Search

But for this blog’s purpose, let’s stick to covering what you may want to major in.

Uncovering What You May Want to Major In

Are your favorite subjects in school math and science or are you more drawn to history? Do you love to write, to read? Do you have a passion for taking electronics apart and then putting them back together, or building something completely new with these used parts? Do you have a fascination for politics, foreign languages, other countries? The list can go on and on. Sit down and really think about what interests you. You can take a career assessment that may provide you with further insight to a set of careers that match your abilities and interests. Signature College Counseling offers the Pathway Planner. We researched many potential assessments that would fit our students and found this one to be the most straightforward, useful and spot on with assessing a student’s thinking style, personality traits translating into career interests and specific careers.

To further understand your interests, take a summer course, either virtually or on a college campus, that sparks your interest. There are some programs out there that offer exposure to a series of topics so you can get a flavor for many areas all in one program. You can purchase the book from Amazon that we have suggested to our students, “The Ultimate Summer Program Guide for High School Students” by Jennifer Williams Taylor and Joyce Wong. It is broken out by various career categories (science, math, business, law, pre med….etc.) to explore potential programs that may be best for you.

The Bottom Line? You Don’t Need to Know What You Want to Major In While You Are In High School

80% of students change their major at least once during their college years. In reality, only 27% of students land a job in their major. The remainder explore a profession outside of their major! What does this mean? Continually explore who you are, what you are good at and what you enjoy. And trust me when I say, that your professional road in life is rarely a straight line. It’s a curvy road of growing and understanding yourself and what fits best into your life at any given time. College is one piece of your life puzzle. An important one, should you pursue that avenue. Give it its due. Focus on yourself and who you are. The rest will come. I promise.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone and by email.

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