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Choosing a major in college is an important decision that you will have to make eventually. Some colleges will allow you to mark undeclared as your major, but no matter what you will have to pick the degree you want to end up with when you graduate. It can be a stressful decision to make when you are first deciding what you want to study, but you have to remember that whatever you major in doesn’t mean you will end up doing that for the rest of your life.

Where to start

When you are first deciding on your major, you will have many options, which can be good and bad. Universities across the nation will offer hundreds of different majors, but the question is, which one is right for you?

Start by looking at careers that interest you and work backwards from there. Do you want to be a teacher? You could major in the subject you want to teach or in education. Engineering? You could major in engineering in general, a specific field of interest, or mathematics. Want to own a business? Your options are even more open from a traditional business major to entrepreneurship to finance to the type of business you want to run. Though what you major in doesn’t necessarily define your career, it is a good place to start your research.

To help you research and answer any questions you might have, speak with your high school counselor and/or college advisor. Both of these people will help you in determining what you can do with the skillset you have and the right path to take to get where you want to be after you graduate.

What does a college major entail?

The first couple of years of your college career will be general electives and prerequisites. Colleges require a certain number of credits that are general education courses, like communications, English, science, and mathematics courses. On top of that, you will have to have prerequisites for some of your major specific courses, so keep this in mind as you are signing up for classes. For example you may have to take Algebra before you can take Calculus when majoring in Math.

Whatever you major in will more than likely be around two years of in-depth specialized study. You’ll take a certain number of required classes for your major, including specialized elective classes to help even further your knowledge in a specific study. For example, you may be majoring in engineering, but you can take mechanical or electrical engineering to gain knowledge in a specific field of interest.

Choosing a minor

Depending on your program and college you go to, you might have to choose a minor to go along with your major. A minor is another way to specialize your area of study and require less credits than a major, for example majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. Minors are meant to complement your major, so choose something that will further your knowledge in something that will help you get a job you want and something you will enjoy.

Double majoring

When you double major you will have to complete even more credits than a minor, but you usually won’t have to complete any prerequisites or general electives. Some double major programs will even allow you to complete both majors without spending any more than you would to graduate with a single major. However, you might have to decide this early as the program will have a specific course schedule that you will have to follow.

Changing your college major

Believe it or not, a lot of college students change their major at least once, and sometimes two or three times before they graduate. It is only natural that you will change what you want to do or find an area of study that interests you more than your current major.

If you do end up changing your major, you don’t want to do it so late in the game where you have to be in college for way longer than you expected. Many majors will have cross-listed courses between majors, but if they don’t, you don’t want to be one semester from graduating only to change your major and have to stay in college for three more semesters. That can cost you a lot of money in tuition, and more time before you find a career. If you are going to change your major, try to do it before the start of your junior year.

Don’t let it stress you out

Just because you are majoring in one area doesn’t mean you will be doing that exact thing for the rest of your life. Yes, you should choose a major that somehow fits into the career you want to be in, but many majors are versatile enough that you can find a career doing something you love without being tied to one area of study. Stress will only make your decision harder and weigh you down with useless worrying.

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