Choosing a major in college can be a major source of anxiety, but it doesn't have to be! These tips will help you overcome dealing with college major indecision.

Today I would like to introduce you to a guest poster, Dayton! Dayton is a self proclaimed overachiever who dealt with a lot of anxiety over choosing her major when in college. Today she is here to help give some tips about how to pick the right major for you and an insight on how to avoid the stress that it can cause.

The distance between who I’d been in high school and who I was now could have encompassed the world twice over. At least, in my mind. The overachiever, the star student, the girl with infinite untapped potential had devolved into an aimless, confused woman with enough credits to graduate a year early but not enough in one subject.

I’d somehow managed to slip through the university bureaucracy and was still “undeclared” as a junior. I swapped my classes out more in the first two weeks than most kids did during online registration. Frozen with indecision, I stared at the ceiling for hours, dreading yet another day where I made progress in a path I wasn’t sure I even wanted. The way I saw it, every day that I didn’t commit to becoming a neuroscientist, a lawyer, a doctor, a novelist, whatever, was another day that I “lost”, that I should’ve been working towards my real calling in life, whatever that was. I had to succeed, even if I didn’t know what “success” was. And while everyone placated me by pointing out that no one my age had it all figured out, they didn’t see how heavy this weighed on me.

I’d never been so lost.

This sort of depression isn’t unusual among overachievers. Perhaps it was just an obsession with finding the “right” answer where there wasn’t one. And that was the hardest lesson for somebody like me to learn. Even though picking a major isn’t easy for most college students, for overachievers, it can be earth-shattering. Somehow, though, I made it through, but I should’ve been a lot easier on myself. Hopefully, you can follow advice where I couldn’t.


Realize it Doesn’t Matter Anyway

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Look, I know this is probably against everything you’ve ever been taught. After all, whenever I tell people that I graduated with a degree in political science, the second question I get asked (after “What’s that?”) is always, “Well, what’re you going to do with that?” People don’t realize that just like asking what someone will do with a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree is becoming the new standard. Yeah, some jobs mandate a certain degree, especially in the hard sciences, but not everyone is going to be an engineer or chemist. Most major don’t have a specific career path lined up after graduation, and that’s okay. We still need administrators, managers, PR specialists, etc. In fact, most college grads don’t work in the same field as their major, and that’s okay!


Reflect on Your Past Classes

I knew that STEM programs were encouraging women to join, and I’d always been good at math and science, so I pushed forward with a major in microbiology. And while the material itself was interesting, I hated lab work; I found it tedious and monotonous, even as my classmates grinned at the painfully gradual color and phase changes. I couldn’t bear the idea of spending the rest of my life in a lab, but that’s exactly where that major would have lead me.

It’s tempting to pick a major that aligns with popular conceptions of “success”. We’ve been told that computer science and medicine are some of the best fields to go into right now, and with college getting more and more expensive, we’re eager to show a return on investment. But if the thought of working in labs thrills you as much as it did me, there’s not enough money in the world to make it worth it.

So, I looked back at the classes that I had the best time in. I never skipped the required reading in my political science courses, I actually enjoyed writing the papers, and I looked forward to the discussions. But there isn’t any clear-cut path for a poli sci major. And even though I didn’t know what I’d do with it, I knew what I definitely didn’t want to do, and that was enough.


Reevaluate Your Standards

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You’ve always been an overachiever, but that doesn’t have to change when you enter the real world. I excelled by earning top grades and intellectually challenging myself at school, but excelling means something different after college. It means whatever you want it to. You get to make the rubric. No more including seven peer-reviewed sources or APA format. Instead, you can succeed by still challenging yourself, even when your classmates never pick up a book again. You can succeed by meeting your own standards.

If you need society’s admiration and everything that goes along with it (big house, nice car, kids in private school) then admit that. If that is really important to you, it’ll be easier to muscle through four years of a boring major than to hate yourself for the rest of your life. For me, that’s not so important, but it’s not a bad thing if it is for you. Just recognize your priorities, and be ready to make sacrifices if necessary.

The choice you make now is as important as you want it to be. Some people know exactly what they want to do, and good for them. For the rest of us mortals, we get to decide exactly how much weight our major carries. It does have the potential to lead us into a predestined career, or it can just be a stepping stone in your exploration. Either way, your time in college will be formative on its own- you don’t need to add more pressure if you don’t want to.


What made you decide on your major?





Dealing With College Major Indecision

2 thoughts on “Dealing With College Major Indecision

  • October 29, 2016 at 9:20 pm
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    I started being in Culinary Arts, I loved to cook (and eat 😉 so it felt like it was the perfect major for me. It was hard, but it was also fun learning about new things. It wasn’t until I had a panic attack in my third semester in one of my cooking classes did I realize that maybe, just maybe this isn’t for me. So I switched majors. I’m now in what is called Individual Studies which is a major that allows me to take classes from any major on campus. Now I know what I want to do; I’m going to be transferring to another college (in another state might I add) for Graphic Design. It was always interior design or culinary for me growing up and I regret not taking art classes in high school when I could. My family is a bit upset, but I’m glad I finally found what I think is the perfect major and job for me. I have one more semester left (spring 2017) at my current college, then moving I go!! Got any tips for moving across states? ;P haha <3

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  • November 22, 2016 at 8:26 pm
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    Hey there! I really enjoyed your article that I found through Pinterst and I wanted to say thank you! I am a junior in high school (please, I have heard enough ‘you have time!! don’t worry!! to last me a life time) and I am pressured by none other than my own self to find a major asap. All my friends know what they want to do, are taking free college credit courses on line through our highschool and local community college to get their Gen Eds and other such of sorts out of the way. I, however, your model for the character you described in your post, am just sitting here with pigtails as all my peers seem to mature and get on with life. There is a lot I want to do, a lot I want to achieve. Byt my overachieving and perfectionist mind set breaks down when there just isn’t a ‘correct’ answer. I loved your post because it told me what I needed to hear, that I probaly wont have a job in that major anyway and that the major hardly matters. I have heard similar things before, but thank you for putting it into words. As for choosing a major? Maybe I’ll go into political science like you, or maybe art… I love art, or maybe writing I mean since I knew what a book was I wanted to be an author, or maybe I’ll go into the military, or maybe I could be a buisness owner.. or maybe……….

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