Last Updated: Sep 25, 2015
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question teachers, parents, and even classmates ask (more and more frequently) as you grow older. But whether you feel “grown up” or not, you’re generally expected to have an answer—of sorts—by your sophomore year of college.
For some people, choosing a major isn’t a big deal; they seem to have been born knowing what they wanted to do. For others, choosing a major doesn’t come so easily. If you’re one of those people, here are a few ways to clear your thoughts and make your major decision a little easier.
1. Don’t panic
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t know what you want to major in. In fact, experiencing some uncertainty is good thing; it shows how seriously you’re taking this decision. Remind yourself that you can change your major, even after sophomore year, and that everyone has doubts sometimes. The important thing is to make sure you’re thinking clearly. [Editor’s note: talk to your professors and academic advisor! They’re there to help.
2. Focus on what you love
Finding a major—and, eventually, a job—is all about picking something that appeals to you. What are you good at? What makes you happiest? Even a hobby you enjoy or have a talent for can clue you in as to what you’d like to major in.
Related: The Truth About College Majors
3. Try to ignore stereotypes and generalizations
Majoring in English doesn’t mean you’ll never find a job, and majoring in business doesn’t mean you’ll be rolling in dough. Don’t rule out a major because of what you’ve heard; research all facets of a major and careers that typically result from it well before deciding that it’s out of the question.
4. Talk to other people
Sometimes friends and family members can provide much-needed perspective. You could also speak to someone who chose the major you’re considering; seeing where it took them may give you some much-needed peace of mind. (Ask your school’s career center or alumni office for help connecting to those people if you don’t know anyone personally.)
5. But don’t let them influence your decision too much
Talking to other people is important, but in the end, you’ll be the one living with your decision. Choosing a major without adequate research or because of societal—or parental—pressure is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. No one knows you as well as you know yourself. Trust your instincts, and you’re bound to do well.