Should I Choose a Major Before Submitting My Application?

December 4th, 2012

Most colleges are looking for particular students with particular sets of skills, but not all them.  It is important to research what your top choices are looking for.  Stanford is looking for different types of students than is Berkeley, for example.   Many universities are eager to accept students that fit within a narrow range of strengths and weaknesses which means that often times, they want to see your strengths articulated into the major that you’ll be studying.  If you are quite strong in a particular area, you will be showing your potential university that you are committed to that strength and show a particular passion in that field of study.  At the end of the day, universities want to see dedication, diligence, and passion based on your strengths in high school.  Choosing a major upon applying to a university is just one more way to “brand” yourself as a unique student with a real drive for the subject matter.

However, some statistics show that around 80% of college students change their majors, and on average, a college student will change their major THREE TIMES during the course of their college education.  While this may be “normal” it is one of the main reasons college is taking students closer to five years to graduate.  When we get to college each major has specific classes that we need to take, so if we have been studying Psychology for two years and switch to Marine Biology, we are going to have to take a whole new set of classes, rendering the majority of the classes we took for Psychology useless.  While we may have enjoyed the classes we took, we are now two years behind in our Marine Biology coursework.  So in order to get the most for our time and ourselves it is most efficient to pick something we will love to do and stick with it.

If you are not so lucky as to know what you want to study right when you get accepted, there are important strategies that can help us use our time efficiently and not waste priceless time on taking unnecessary classes.   Many undecided students tend to study Psychology and Business, both very popular choices with a large range of opportunities in the future but they may not be what we really want to do.  Here is one strategy that will work well:

There are two main types of classes in college, General Education and Major Specific classes.  General Education classes are usually entry level and have few or no prerequisite classes (classes you need to take before you can take your major class).  While Major Specific classes usually build on themselves so they take more investment time wise.  If we do end up going into a major we are unsure about, it is best use of our time to take mostly General Education classes, and perhaps one major class our first semester.  This way we get our General Education classes (the classes we have to take no matter what) out of the way while still getting a little taste of how we like the major.

If we pay close attention to the classes, we may find there are some major classes that overlap with General Education, these would be best to start your Freshman year with because they give us a taste of the major while also chipping away at the General Education classes we have to take anyway.

But again the number one thing you should consider before you choose your major is “What do I LOVE to do” because in the end that is what will make you happiest, and when you are happiest you will perform your best.  Good Luck future of America!