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7 things to remember when picking a major

Posted By Ned Jones | September 29, 2015

With college applications comes a lot of talk about majors—what you'd like to study, what you should study, what you'll tell potential schools. It can be an overwhelming process, even for those who are 99 percent sure what they want to focus on. Want some help alleviating the pressure? Consider these seven things.

Major1. You don't have to decide now. Entering college as undecided, or undeclared, can actually be a very smart move. It gives you time to explore more fields of study, meet faculty members you maybe wouldn't have met otherwise and really hone in on what you're passionate about. It's also just as economical as if you were to choose a major beforehand: you can still graduate in four years, even if you declare junior year. (Check out this quick guide on entering undecided.)

2. That said, do you already know what you want to major in? Remember this: what you do well in isn't always the same as what interests you. Just because you're exceptional at, say, math, doesn't mean you need to major in it! If a topic you're studying in high school excites you—regardless of it's your best subject—that could very well be a good place to start if you want to declare before you enter college. 

3. You could double major. Are you really, really passionate about two disciplines? Research schools that enable you to major in both of them at the same time. Just be sure to chat with your academic advisor at the start of your freshman year to carefully map out your courses, and keep in mind that declaring a double major will reduce your options for taking elective courses.

4. Or you can have a major and a minor. Don't forget, you can minor in something, too. At Siena, we ask that minors be declared by the end of your junior year, so you have plenty of time to focus on your major and figure out what it is you may want to minor in.

5. You could switch majors. It may help to know that if you do decide a major now, it doesn't have to be etched in stone. It's very possible you could start out as an English major, and end up a psychology major! In fact, nearly 80 percent of college students in the U.S. change their major at least once before they graduate. Keep an open mind and explore when you can; you'll know soon enough if you're happy with your decision.

6. Your major isn't your career. Are you at all worried that whatever you choose to study now will define what you do after graduation? Don't be! While your major will open doors to certain internships and potential career paths, it won't necessarily close doors to others. Who you meet, who you network with, your extracurriculars, trips you go on, research projects you participate in and so on can all have an impact on your future. 

7. Liberal arts schools offer a lot. The term 'liberal arts' really describes a comprehensive education that provides a broad range of studies, from the humanities to natural sciences and beyond. If you're just not sure what to do now or what you want to do in the long run, you'll find that a liberal arts college is a great place to be. (Read more about our thoughts on liberal arts here.) 

If you'd like to chat more about the major selection process, reach out to us whenever you'd like. And if you haven't already, download our guide to being undecided now!

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TOPICS: Admissions Info & Advice, Undecided

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3 Reasons Why Being Undecided is a Smart Choice