Featured Image

All the Wrong Reasons to Choose a Major

Instead of listing a billion ways on how to choose the major that is perfect for you, let's go over some reasons why you should NOT choose a college major--because even if you don't know what's right for you, you may be able to tell what's wrong.

Many students enter college with a pre-chosen major (though some do not). But the first major you pick is not always the one you will graduate with. In high school, there’s a lot of pressure to have your career path picked out and outlined, defined by the college and major you choose to pursue––even though some high school graduates aren’t even legal to vote yet! It’s stressful to be expected to make life-changing decisions when you’re still technically a kid, but let me lend you a word of advice: picking a college major doesn’t have to be the apex on which your entire adult life rests.

Instead of listing a billion ways on how to choose the major that is perfect for you, how about we start a bit easier? Let’s go over some reasons why you should not choose a college major—because even if you don’t know what’s right for you, you may be able to tell what’s wrong. Do not pick a major just because:

It sounds cool

Maybe you think being an engineer sounds awesome, except for the fact that you hate math...it probably isn’t the best idea to pursue an Engineering major. If you have absolutely no experience in a subject area—or worse, if you have negative experience—consider doing some volunteer work to see if you really want to dedicate four years (or more) to a particular field.

It will eventually make you a lot more money

Money is important, let’s be real. But the best lesson I learned about college majors and money was through a family friend: He works as a lawyer and makes bank, but he hates every single minute of it. He hates his job and is admittingly miserable. You know how sad that is? To be able to afford great vacations and a nice house but not be able to enjoy it because your demanding career sucks all the passion and joy from your life? Uh-uh. Don’t pick a career that makes you hate life. It’s not worth it. You, on the other hand, are worth happiness.

Your parents say you’ll love it

You can certainly listen your parents’ suggestions, but they may not know exactly what you want. Take their opinions into consideration, but remember, they are opinions.

Related: So Your Parents Don’t Support Your College Major

Your teachers tell you to

Teachers also don’t know you much outside of the class they teach. Sure, you can excel in their course, but maybe you hate it. Teachers are great sources for advice, but again, it’s advice, not orders.

Your friends are doing it

Peer pressure is more real when its subtle, unnoticed, and not even intended. If all your friends are going into Pre-med but you hate science, you don’t have to compare yourself to them and go into a field you’re not totally in love with (even if those medical TV shows make that life seem desirable).

TV or movies portray it as the best

Like those medical shows, media dramatize all sorts of careers and lives. If you’re inspired by those stories, great! But before you dive into a fantasy, get some real-life experience under your belt. I thought I wanted to be a medical doctor, for example, based off of TV. But you know what? I hate hospitals. I don’t like that clinical atmosphere. I don’t even like biology. Should I be a medical doctor? Probably not. I can still watch episodes about that life though!

Your university has a great program for it

Maybe your college is world-renowned for its Philosophy department. This can be a great opportunity, but if you don’t even know what philosophy is, start with some general education courses (GE’s) and then decide if you want to think about thought for the next four-plus years.

Because you have no idea what to do

It’s okay to go into college as “undecided.” It’s also okay to switch majors after starting college. Yes, it’s better to figure that out before your second year, but that’s where GE’s come in. Get those done and figure out your major in that time.

Related: A Guide to Choosing the Best First Year College Classes

You think you could force yourself to like it

Let me say it again: You are worth happiness. If you absolutely, positively end up hating every class you take in your chosen major, my educated guess would be that it is not quite right for you. No one gets an award for how well they can force themselves to persevere through something they hate when you just don’t have to do it. Individuals are geared toward different interests. If you hate painting, drawing, sketching, and crafting, but you push yourself through a semester of voluntary Art, well, it’s likely that while your peers might empathize a bit, they’re more likely to say, “Dude, why didn’t you just drop the class?” If it’s a GE, well, I suppose you sort of have to push through it. But if it’s your major? Pick one that you enjoy, not one you have to work twice as hard to get through purely because you hate every moment of it.

Related: How to Choose Your Major (or Not)

Overall, just because a major is good doesn’t mean it has to be good for you. You pick it based off who you are, and who you are at the end of high school may not (and likely won’t) be who you are at the end of college. Change is good! So don’t feel behind if you don’t know where exactly you think your life is headed when you step onto campus the first day.

Majors don’t define your entire life, and while they do guide the next four-or-so years, those years fly by quickly! Build who you are and find a college major that doesn’t get in the way of that. Work toward success, but don’t forget that happiness impacts the type of success you’ll find.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

choosing a major college majors how to choose a major majors

About Averie Basch

Averie Basch is a 20-year-old junior at California State University, Fresno. She is a Smittcamp Family Honors College Scholar with a major in English and a minor in Creative Writing. She has always enjoyed reading and writing, so she hopes to build a career as a professor of literature, eventually publishing both academic works and novels. Averie loves being able to experience different lives and emotions through writing, whether it be poetry or fiction, but she also loves broadening her mind with essays.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo


Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find Allegheny with the super user-friendly search tool for both schools and scholarships. Using CollegeXpress, I was able to search for programs I was interested in studying and find colleges that offered those programs. Also, once you search for the college, CollegeXpress can get you connected!



High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress helped open me up to many colleges that fit my interests. I’m only a sophomore in high school, so I like having a lot to look at, and CX does a great job of picking colleges that meet my wants. It's a great website that I'll continue to use until it comes time for me to apply for colleges. I also like that it notifies me through email with options to look at. Thanks CX!

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Farrah Macci

Farrah Macci

High School Class of 2016

CollegeXpress has helped me in many ways. For one, online searches are more organized and refined by filtering scholarships through by my personal and academic interests. Due to this, it has made searching for colleges and scholarships significantly less stressful. As a student, life can already get stressful pretty quickly. For me, it’s been helpful to utilize CollegeXpress since it keeps all of my searches and likes together, so I don’t have to branch out on multiple websites just to explore scholarship options.

College Matches