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How to Think About Majors When You're in High School

It's totally okay if you don't have your college major and future career picked out in high school...but that doesn't mean you shouldn't think about it.

It’s totally, absolutely, 100% okay if you don’t have your college major and future career picked out in high school…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about it.

Chances are you’ve been told that once you get to college, you’ll change your major a couple times. While that may be true for most students, don’t make the mistake of waiting until college to make some major decisions.

It’s completely okay to not be sure about what you want to do with your life and change your major in college, but it can be extremely helpful to have a prospective major or two in mind in high school. Especially since most colleges want to know what you’re interested in academically, and having a major in mind can help your college search, since some schools might not have the major you want. Yes, not all colleges have the same degrees available (shocking, I know). You don’t want to be in your second year of college, hate your major, and want to change it to something your college doesn’t offer.

Thinking about the major you want in high school can help you make better, more informed decisions later on, because you can explore your options and give them careful thought. It might even help you when you apply to colleges and in the scholarship and financial aid department. It’s never too early to start thinking about your major, even if you’re like me and still have two years of high school left!

To start thinking about your future college major, try focusing on things that interest you. If you like art, you can major in art in general or something more specific, such as painting or sculpture. Another example is if you love writing or even specific things like Shakespeare, you could major in English or something like European literature. Then look for classes, after-school activities, internships, volunteer opportunities, or even part-time jobs that might give you a taste of what that major/field might be like. Think about what your favorite thing to do is, and you might be able to make a career out of it.

I started thinking about what I wanted to major in a couple of years ago. At first I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. Then I wanted to teach English to children in other countries. Now I want to work in publishing. My major changed as my interests changed. Your interests will probably be at least a little different by the time you reach your senior year and start applying to colleges. But it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about it early on in high school.

Keep some prospective majors in mind as you search for colleges so you can focus on which schools offer it and have good programs. For example, College of the Holy Cross, Hamilton College, and SUNY Binghamton have some great English programs. You can find out more information like this by using the handy-dandy Internet. But be sure to double-check your facts and look at lots of college reviews (not just the “best colleges” lists), because some information could be outdated or just flat-out wrong. I’m going to quote every middle and high school English teacher here, so bear with me: “Use reliable websites that end with .edu, .gov, and some .org’s.” (I apologize to those of you traumatized from going through website after website trying to find the right source. Please know I am deeply sorry to bring up any painful memories, but it is still good advice.)

Also remember that what you eventually major in in college is not a contract for your future career. Yes, it can have a big impact, like if you major in accounting or culinary arts or engineering, that’s going to steer you in those directions. And if that’s what you want to do with your life, then go for it. But that doesn’t mean you’re required to be an accountant or chef or engineer. You can change your mind, change your major, and learn other skills through internships, double majors and minors, extracurricular activities, and more. Being excited about what you’re studying in college is important. And it might be directly related to your future career…but it might not be. That’s okay too!

Choosing a college major does not have to be a stressful last-minute thing. In fact, thinking about it high school can be really helpful! So take a few deep breaths, grab yourself some nice iced coffee, and ponder potential majors. I hope this article makes the major decision-making a process a bit easier, and I wish you the best of luck in your college search!

How are you thinking about your college major choices as a high school student? Got any tips you want to share? Leave a comment or get in touch here.

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About Caitlyn Baker

My name is Caitlyn Baker, and I'm a sophomore at Snow Canyon High School. I live in St. George, Utah, and plan on majoring in English in college. I enjoy reading, writing, and listening to music. My favorite genre of music is country and my favorite genre of books is historical fiction (especially books set in the 1920s). College is something I've been planning for since I was 10 years old, and I'm very passionate about it. I'm grateful for the opportunity to write about it and share my experiences and opinions with others.


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