Major Exploration: 5 Key Things You Should Know

Choosing a major can feel as though you are making one of the biggest decisions of your life. It can induce a lot of pressure, especially when you don’t have any idea what you would like to study. As someone who is currently on her third major selection, I understand the stress that can accompany this process – but I am also here to tell you that making this decision doesn’t have to feel like you are making an unalterable life choice. After working as a Career Development Intern for two years and interacting with many exploring students, I have learned a lot about choosing a major. I would like to share five key ideas that I believe everyone should know while exploring majors to ease your worries about this process and make the most of your college experience.

  1. “It’s just one line.”
    One of the Career Consultants at the UGA Career Center, Maggie, always emphasizes this point during her "Explore Lab" Arch Ready programs, which comprise of a presentation and interactive group session designed to help you take some tangible steps in your major exploration while also easing your fears about making this decision. At the end of the day, your major takes up one line on your resume. Your experiences and activities will take up the bulk of your resume, and these are what will showcase your skills, your development as a leader and teammate, and your dedication to demonstrating your qualifications to employers. While your major is a very important and essential aspect of your college experience, it is only one piece of the puzzle that comprises your presentation as a qualified candidate.
  2. Research, research, research!
    As easy and tempting as it may be to choose a major quickly to have the decision made, you will be in the best position if you take the time to genuinely explore your options to determine which major is right for you. When I was trying to decide between several majors, I was constantly talking to people to create a more complete picture on the major. I set up appointments with the advisors for each major, I talked to students in that major, and I engaged in networking with current professionals who studied those majors to hear their advice and perspective on how the major shaped their careers. Networking is extremely valuable for gaining information to make an informed decision while simultaneously establishing connections that can support you throughout your college career. The UGA Mentor Program is my personal favorite outlet to network, as it allows you to connect with alumni in many different fields to hear about their experiences in a one-on-one setting. Here are a few other resources that I find extremely helpful during the major selection process:
    • UGA Bulletin – Explore the classes you can take for all the majors available at UGA.
    • Candid Career – Watch videos from real professionals where they discuss their careers and their experiences.
    • What Can I Do with a Major in…” Pages – Use these pages on each major of interest to learn more about ways to get involved in the major, job boards and postings, sample job titles and employers, resources, and more!
    • UGA Career Outcomes – Examine data from previous classes of UGA students to see where they were hired or what graduate schools they are attending based on their major.
    • Meet with a Career Consultant – Visit Handshake to make an appointment with your major-specific Career Consultant or an Exploring Career Consultant for personalized help with your major and career exploration.
  3. Your major doesn’t necessarily define your career field.
    It can be easy to think that your major is confining you within a box of limited options for your career path. While it is true, of course, that many careers require specialized training, simply having earned a bachelor’s degree will open many doors to you in careers outside of your field of study, especially when you have a diverse range of experiences with transferrable skills that you can utilize in a variety of fields. The UGA Career Center hosts career fairs each semester, and you will always find dozens of employers visiting that are accepting applicants of any major. I recommend going to career fairs as early as your freshman year to become more familiar with your environment and to use it as a starting place for learning about employers and options you have available. Visit the events calendar on our website to see when our next career fair will be!
  4. It is okay to change your major (even multiple times), just don’t do it alone!
    Many college students change their major – it is almost a rite of passage. I’ve met people who have changed their major five or six times. I changed my major twice, and each change brought me a step closer to discovering my career field that I am incredibly passionate about today. Taking the time now to explore different career fields and options is worth it to ensure that you find something that you genuinely enjoy. You will likely spend many years working, and you don’t want to spend that time in a career field that you don’t find fulfilling. Each time I changed my major, I asked for support and advice from advisors, parents, and friends, and I met with an Exploring Career Consultant to discuss my interests and passions. This is a crucial step in changing your major. Discussing how this new major will align with your current trajectory, especially when you are further into your college career, will ensure that you are making strategic decisions to make the most of your time here. You can make an appointment with an Exploring Career Consultant through the Handshake platform to gain this valuable guidance.
  5. At the end of the day, it is YOUR major.
    While I have emphasized the importance of talking to others to help inform your decision when choosing your major, you are ultimately the one that will be taking the classes and putting in the time to pursue the career path. Be creative with how you choose minors, certificates, and supplementary programs to ensure that your interests and passions are being nurtured. Give yourself grace as you find yourself in this process. College is a transformative time, and your interests and goals can change. College is one of your biggest chances to explore, so do yourself the service of taking the time to explore topics and areas that are interesting to you. You never know what you may discover!
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