But perhaps the greatest challenge of all is deciding on a major. After
all, this is the one decision that is likely to affect your entire life, and it often comes down to making up your mind on the spot in your junior year. Or, at the beginning of a two-year program, if youve chosen to specialize in a trade.
Unless youve known from childhood what you want to do in life, rest assured, most undergrads get the jitters as their junior year looms, along with the need to pick a major.
Will it be English or economics? Accounting or engineering? Anthro-pology or comparative literature? International affairs or forensic science?
FINDING A DIRECTION
If you havent got a clue as to what you want to do in life, relax: being forced to choose a major is probably the best thing that could possibly happen to you during your young adulthood.
Why? Because many people never figure out what they want to do with their lives. They end up working a series of unrelated jobs, heading into their 30s without a clue... and often, without a profession.
Thats why being forced to choose a major is a way to find a direction in life. Suddenly, youre on a path with a destination in mind.
Ah, but how to choose?
For starters, a good way to choose a major is simply to analyze what youre good at.
Do you have the gift of gab and excel at public speaking? Then a marketing major may be your ticket.
Have you always been a whiz at math? Then engineering, software design, or the hard sciences are obvious avenues.
Do you love helping people? Nursing and social work come to mind.
In my case, I grew up with a love of books and history, and always loved being the first to know the latest news about my classmates. I also loved photography. These interests made journalism an easy choice for my major in college, along with a minor in photography.
You may not even know that you have a talent until it reveals itself in college.
One friend, for instance, was
uncertain as to what major to choose until he did unexpectedly well on an
accounting test. Although he never
imagined a career in accounting, he chose the subject as
his major and it resulted in a great career.
Then too, sometimes its a good idea to pick more than one major in the hope of finding a direction. If your interest in music theory doesnt pan out, then perhaps your alternative major in Spanish or economics will prove more fruitful. Or, perhaps youll find a job that requires a multitude of skills made possible by two majors.
Going with whats the most popular subject on campus is not always the
best route to success. In the 80s, for instance, exercise physiology was a popular major that coincided with the running boom. But there werent necessarily a lot of great-paying jobs for the grads who piled on.
But still, those grads were
doing what they loved, and theres
always a measure of wisdom in that
approach. The Chinese phil-osopher Confucius was one of a long list of commentators who noted that if you do what you
love in life, it will never seem like work.
And know this: even with a major under ones belt and a sure sense of direction, no one knows where life
will take them. I have a friend who majored in zoology and conducted bird surveys on a remote island after graduating; today, he is the administrator of a social work agency, a job which has little or nothing to do with
studying animal behavior. So, think of your major as a starting point, rather than a destination, and enjoy the ride.