How to Choose a Major Before College

There’s a good chance that you will change your mind about your major at least once, if not more times, when you get to college. You’ll be exposed to a lot of options you didn’t consider before. You’ll also grow and change. However, there are still some things you can do before college that will help you figure out how to pick a major.

Start Exploring Majors Early

Your high school schedule may be pretty rigid, filled up every year with Algebra, Chemistry, English, History/Social Studies, sports, and maybe a foreign language. This often leaves you with very few electives.  However, there are still things you can do to explore different academic and career areas:

  • Shadowing and interviewing: Shadowing and interviewing adults you know who have careers you are interested in is a great way to figure out what you might want to study. It can also help to learn how these people got to where they are now from their college days, since many people shift around throughout their careers until they are doing something quite different from what the originally studied!  Ask your neighbors what they do for work, talk to people in a coffee shop about their jobs and workplaces….EXPLORE!
  • Reading books and articles: Reading nonfiction books and articles on a variety of subjects can also help you figure out what excites you academically. What topics do you find super-engaging and what topics bore you to tears? This can give you some clues as to what you might want to investigate further in college when you are choosing a college major.  Podcasts are another great resource for exploring different topics, especially because you can listen to them while you do chores or other mundane tasks!
  • Summer activities: The summer is a great time to do a deeper dive on things you think you might be seriously interested in pursuing. Internships, camps, classes at community colleges, and volunteering opportunities are all excellent chances to become more immersed in subjects you may not regularly study at school. Volunteer at the arboretum! Take a photography class! Do a robotics camp! There are tons of possibilities.
  • Lectures and events at local colleges: If you do live near any colleges or universities, you can take advantage of their open-to-the-public lectures and events! It’s a good chance to hear professors talk about their work which can help you consider if you might want to do similar academic work.

With all that said, don’t feel too panicked if you can only do mostly surface-level exploration into choosing a college major at this stage. High school is a high-pressure endeavor; you will be able to consider your interests as you get to college (and throughout your life!) Just do what you can and remain thoughtful and curious about possible courses of study.