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Everything You Need to Know Before Choosing a College Major

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Ready to make the leap and apply to college? Congratulations! What are you planning to study? 

If that question made you panic a little, you’re not alone. There are many different areas of study to choose from, and depending on which one you pick, it could influence where you go to school and where you work after college. Needless to say, choosing the right college major for you can be a stressful decision. 

Don’t panic though! Collegeboxes is here to break it all down and make it feel less intimidating.

What Does It Mean to Declare a Major? 

Essentially, declaring a major means deciding which field of study you want to specialize in during your time in college. You may have noticed that some schools ask your expected major during the application process.

Is Your Major Important? 

Yes! The subject area you major in will influence the classes you’ll take, what sorts of internships you’re eligible for, and your earning potential in the workforce. If you already know what subject area you’d like to major in, it can even help with choosing a college!

When Do I Declare a Major? 

As we mentioned before, some schools will ask for your chosen major before you even step foot on campus. But you can change your major as many times as you want. Ideally, you should definitively declare your major around sophomore year. This will give you the best shot of graduating within 4 years.

Two men stitting at a table reviewing notes

What to Consider Before Choosing a Major 

Explore your interests: Just because your parents think you’ll make a great doctor doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to major in biology. When selecting a major, think about what you’re interested in, whether it be literature, astronomy, or even art and performance. 

Consider your career goals: College is fun, but we’re all going because we want to build a better career for ourselves. Think about where you want to be 5, 10, or even 20 years down the road. Are you working at a large corporation? Teaching a class of students? Exploring the ocean? 

Consider what you’re good at: When selecting a major, try to cater to your natural strengths. If you’re a math whiz, there are so many different majors where you can exercise that skill. Or, if you’re great with kids, you may find that education is a fulfilling major for you.

Girl sitting in a chair and reeding some notes

What is an Undeclared Major? 

An undeclared major is basically what it sounds like: you haven’t picked one yet! This means that you’ll enroll in more general education classes rather than specialized courses for the time being.

How Long Can I Be Undeclared? 

We mentioned before that you have some time to decide what major works best for you, but you should ideally declare a major around your sophomore or junior year. If you declare your major any later, you may have to complete a few extra semesters’ worth of classes.

Can I Change Majors After Declaring One? 

Of course you can! In fact, at least 30% of students will change their major at least once within the first three years of college. But like we said before, certain majors may come with a lot of required courses. So, make sure you consider the course load before making the switch.

How to Change Majors 

If you’re thinking about switching majors, talk to your academic advisor at your soonest convenience. During that meeting, you’ll go over why you want to switch majors and if this switch will impact your course load. Once you come to a decision, you will fill out the required paperwork for the request.  

You can expect your change to go through within a few days, but depending on how late you are into the semester, you may not be able to change your classes right away. That’s why it’s better to try and change your major early on into the semester, if possible.

What is a Double Major? 

While many students have trouble declaring a major, some struggle with declaring just one. A double major is when a student has enough credits to achieve a degree in two different disciplines. This is still just one degree, but with two majors attached to it. 

Double majors usually take the same amount of time to complete as a regular bachelor’s degree. This is because the credits you receive from certain classes can fulfill multiple major requirements. For this reason, students will usually major in related subjects, so they won’t have to stay an extra semester to finish their degree. 

What is a Minor? 

A minor is a declared course of study that requires less coursework than a major. Minors should be somewhat related to your major. For example, if you’re studying foreign policy, a minor focused on a specific language can make you look more competitive on resumes

While minors are helpful, they should not add time to your college tenure. Avoid picking up a minor if it gets in the way of your anticipated graduation date. They’re not that worth it! 

STEM: From biology to computer science to engineering; majors in STEM come with amazing job prospects. Fair warning: these can be tough majors to jump into, so make sure you’re ready for the heavy course load. In other words, get ready to hit the library and bust out the flashcards!

Arts: Art degrees can help you achieve a variety of creative jobs, like graphic and web design, museum curation, or maybe even opening your own galley one day.

Education: If one thing is for sure, the world needs more good teachers. If you can’t stand the thought of being stuck in a cubicle all day and you like kids, maybe education is the path for you.

Business: Business degrees are versatile and a great starting point for aspiring professionals. You can pursue careers in finance, business administration, or upper management roles. 

Social Sciences/History: Social sciences can include a variety of things, like women and gender studies, history, or anthropology. While the career path for majors like this are less defined, you can still score some amazing jobs in marketing, social work, or even politics. 

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Whether you’re a high school senior or a 30-something looking to go back to school, selecting a major can be stressful. But just remember, most college majors won’t lock you into a specific career path. At the end of the day, your education will make you a stronger, smarter, and more employable individual.  

Feeling stressed about moving to school? Collegeboxes can help. With our first-class storage, shipping, and Ship-to-School services, we help students get conquer move-in day. All you need to do is pack up your stuff, and we handle the rest!  

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