Is This Really What I Want to Do? The Truth in Picking a Major

A college student shares the steps he took to decide on a college major, including recognizing what he enjoys doing, asking for feedback, and matching his interests with careers.
Student using microscope after picking a major

By the time we're able to talk and walk, we have dreams of what we want to do "when we grow up." When you start school, you learn and experience new things for the first time. And you hear over and over, "You can be whoever or whatever you want to be, even President of the United States."

Time flies, you mature and start to develop, and you begin to understand your own identity and who you want to be. When you get to college, you realize that you need to make decisions about your future, and selecting a college major is one of those decisions. But sometimes, you're not really sure about what you want to be or do after college.

I faced the same dilemma recently, so I called up my mother and we talked for hours regarding my future. She gave me the scholarly task of doing research into myself. As if I needed any more homework. I was charged with finding the intersectionality of what I like, what I'm talented at, and what would guarantee financial gain and security; Sounds easy, doesn't it? In conducting my research, I took the three steps below.

Step 1: Recognize what I enjoy doing.

I compiled a list of activities that I did alone or with friends for fun. Subsequently, I organized the activities in the order of preference. I then narrowed the list from 30 activities down to 10.

Step 2: Ask for feedback.

I asked those close to me to review the list of 10 activities and give me feedback on what seemed to fit me best based on my performance and characteristics. Not all of the feedback was rosy, but it helped me to assess my competencies in the areas of my interest.

Step 3: Match my interests with careers.

I continued my research by looking at which industries were loosely aligned with my interests and which careers were more profitable. By the time I was done, the list of 10 was now a list of 4 potential majors.

It may seem so "automated" or even "overly-elaborate" that this was the process I took to decide my major, but to me it worked, considering I started with no idea of the options that were readily available for me to pursue. You can do the same!

There are countless majors that you can choose to pursue, but it must be something that you are not only interested in, but can see yourself doing passionately for the next phase of your life. Being deliberate about picking a major will help you learn about yourself and help you make an informed decision about your life and future.

Hopefully, you will get to the point of decision-making and soul-searching where you can conclude, "This is what I really want to do."

Learn more about college planning