Last Updated: Jan 23, 2020
Some students know what they want to major in long before they leave high school, while some struggle with figuring out exactly what they want to study. If you’re the latter type of student, that’s okay! You don’t have to have everything figured out yet. A lot of colleges won’t make you declare a major until the end of your sophomore year.
But even if you don’t know for sure, it’s still better to go to college with an idea of what you might want to study. Exploring your options while you’re still in high school could surface a new passion you never even knew you had. So start exploring the possibilities of your future with these interesting, unconventional methods of finding your college major.
1. The dart board method
Sometimes the hardest part of any project is just getting started. If that’s your problem, try leaving your starting point up to fate. Get a dart board, tape each major of interest to one of the sections, and then toss a dart.
From here, take the major the universe has handed you and spend the next week doing a deep dive into it. Look up what your college(s) of choice offers in the way of that major, and compare and contrast with all your top schools of interest.
Look further into what potential job options you would have if you were to choose this major, because not all English degrees translate to being an English teacher, and getting a Business degree doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up at a big corporate company.
Once you have an in-depth look at that major, remove the option from the board and toss again. This method can also work with throwing balls into labeled cups or inputting all your options into a random online generator. Anything that takes the choice out of your hands can make the process less intimidating.
Related: The Truth About College Majors
2. Job shadowing marathon
You might be thinking, “I haven’t even picked a major yet, why should I be job shadowing?” Thinking beyond to life after college is important. You want to get a degree in something that will provide you with opportunities for a fulfilling career. What better way than to test some out?
Here’s the hard thing about job shadowing: if you schedule your days too far apart, it’s difficult to remember the details for comparing and contrasting jobs. When you have a school break, try scheduling a few days in a row of different job shadowing days.
Having back-to-back experiences can strongly highlight the differences of the job, the work atmosphere, and the different skills you might be required to use for each. Knowing these things will shed some light on the things you’d likely learn in a degree program to get those skills, effectively making your decision a little easier based on which skills you value most.
Related: Top Tips for Summer Job Shadowing
3. Try out the things you think you’ll hate
It seems counterproductive to explore options in majors and careers you have zero interest in, but we tend to know very little about things we don’t enjoy. Push past your initial aversion and learn something new about that seemingly complex Engineering degree or boring Accounting program.
You’ll find that some programs that seem boring or uninteresting can often be very versatile degrees. For instance, people with degrees in Accounting or Business are needed in most companies and jobs around the world, but you’d end up having vastly different responsibilities and experiences at each of them. Having that foundation will get you the job, but you’ll be surprised by the interesting things you can do that you didn’t learn in college.
4. Break down your hobbies to find your major
Part of the problem could be that you don’t think your interests can lend well to an actual career. Maybe you love comic books or building model structures. While you may not be able to major in comic books, per say, analyze the different aspects of comic books that someone had to put a ton of work into to create what you love. Someone had to draw the story, someone had to write the story, and someone had to market it.
Behind any fun thing, there is always a team of people who brought it to life, and you could be one of those people. Take your hobbies and break down their elements to get to the root of how they were made and find a major that applies those elements in its learning: some kind of Communications degree with a Business minor could very well get you into the comic book industry!
Finding your college major doesn’t have to be an all-encompassing, intimidating process. With a little creativity, you can make it fun and personal while still being productive and moving toward a final decision. Start by taking a breather and picking a method of exploration that best suits you. Then start getting to know all the possibilities of your future.
Find your best-fit major at your colleges of interest using our College Search tool.