Effective Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Choosing a Major


If you feel completely lost when it comes to choosing your college major, you are not alone. At UGA, with over 130 major options, this decision can be extremely overwhelming. Through hundreds of conversations with students, I have noticed a few important themes that I want to share with you. I have a feeling that you will relate to these themes and, with the help of this article, begin to conquer your fear of choosing a major.

The fear associated with choosing a major is real and addressing it is important because it is not helpful for promoting exploration, a necessary step for building confidence in your major choice. To conquer your fear, we need to start with your beliefs. Your beliefs are important because they can reinforce your fears and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Below are some of the most common beliefs that I hear from students about choosing a major. Let’s take a look together and decide if they are realistic.

Choosing my major is choosing what I’ll do forever.

This belief is extremely common, but is often not the case for a variety of reasons. For instance, factors outside of your control, such as the state of the economy and innovations in technology, can impact your career trajectory by both creating new jobs and eliminating jobs that once existed. With a constantly evolving workplace, consider how your major can be a foundation for your future career, but not the sole determinant of what you do. The skills you develop, experiences you gain, and the network you build throughout college also matter and can be used to take you towards careers that you have not been exposed to yet. If this seems puzzling, take a moment to consider who you may know that studied a certain discipline in college, but is now doing something else. I encourage you to ask them how their career evolved.

I need to identify my career before choosing my major.

This is a big one and one that causes so much fear because it puts the pressure on you to know both your major and what you plan to do with it. Students often struggle in the major choice process because they do not see all of the career possibilities connected to their college major and often, these possibilities are endless. The resources linked later in this article can help you gather more information and give you the courage to trust the process, knowing that you will learn more about your options through taking the classes in your major, gaining experience along the way, and growing your network. For example, if you view the UGA Career Center’s What Can I do with a Major in? pages, you will find evidence of students from the same major entering a variety of entry-level roles. On the Psychology page alone, we see graduates entering management, human resources, teaching, sales, research, consulting, marketing, and healthcare roles, to name a few. 

My major is who I am.

You will spend a lot of time on your major coursework and requirements. With this being the case, the major becomes a huge part of many students’ identities, which can promote anxiety. A slight adjustment in your thinking can help to alleviate your fears. It’s true that the classes required to earn your degree will take up much of your time at UGA, but your classwork is not the only thing that you will be doing to prepare yourself well for your next step after graduation. You will also have your campus involvements, volunteerism, shadowing experiences, projects, part-time jobs, internships and the network you build. Let your major be exactly what it is, one piece of the puzzle that is preparing you for your future career.

Hopefully, taking a look at these common, but unrealistic, beliefs is beginning to ease your fear of choosing a major. With time, I hope you will see that choosing your major is an exciting opportunity to decide which classes you would like to take and skills you would like to build. In recognizing this, your decision can become less about the name of the major (which will be one line on your resume) and more about the potential the major has for developing you in the ways you hope to grow during your time in school. 

After taking a look at your beliefs, exploration is the next step. Exploring your major options is important for helping you have confidence in your major choice. The following strategies and resources can help:

  1. Start with what you know about yourself. What are your interests, skills, personality and values? How would you like to develop during your time in college?
    • Use Career Assessments and discussions with your Career Consultant to gather this information about yourself and create a vision for your college experience.
       
  2. Next, choose at least 3 to 6 majors to explore.  
    • Use What Can I do with a Major in? Pages to help you learn more about each major as well as view entry-level job titles and companies that hire students from the most recent graduating class.
    • Use the UGA Bulletin to explore the degree requirements for your majors of interest.
       
  3. Ready for more? You can also talk to people about majors that stand out to you after your online research.
    • Use college and department websites to identify faculty and staff that you can talk with to learn more insider information about majors.
    • Does your major of interest have a student organization? Browse UGA’s Involvement Network to find out and drop by a student organization meeting to meet students from this major. See what they have to say about their experience to help you further assess your fit.
       
  4. Finally, commit to a class.
    • By following the exploration steps above, you can have confidence in the major’s potential to help you reach your goals. Then, taking a class can be a great way to gain even more confidence. Your academic advisor can help you determine which class to take.

Through using the strategies above, you can learn much more information about your majors of interest. This additional information can ease your fear and help you confidently make a decision. Let the Career Center help you with any decision anxiety you might experience along the way. It’s time to let go of your fears about choosing a major and begin enjoying the process of exploring.

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