How to Decide on a Major: These 5 Questions Will Help
What do you want to be when you grow up?
This is the question we are bombarded with from the time we walk across the stage for our preschool graduation. Small caps, jovial songs, proud parents — only a sneak peek of the “real thing” to come 13 years later.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Our naive answers spill onto the projected screen, and our parents are delighted with laughter as the teacher reads aloud, “Samantha wants to be a McDonalds Worker,” “Alex wants to be a Trashman,” “Elise wants to be a Princess,” or “Tyler wants to be an NBA player.” So when does it become so serious? The promise and possibility of the future at five slowly becomes daunting and anxiety-ridden by the time we turn 18. But when it comes to how to decide on a major, a dream job, or what you want to be when you grow up, it doesn’t have to be a pressure-filled experience. In fact, we propose it should be quite the opposite!
Lay aside your practicality. Let your mind wander away from the pessimistic — or “realistic” — thinking the world has tainted you with. We are going to let every idea live here. Let’s channel our inner five-year-olds for a moment, shall we?
These five questions, as strange as they seem, will help you know how to decide on a major! Write down your answers, and don’t filter what lands on the page. Write everything down that comes to mind!
If you could give a TED talk for 10 minutes on one thing what would it be?
What is something that you love to talk about? Something your friends might even roll their eyes at and say, “oh boy, don’t get him started.” What are the topics that you are passionate about? (Think about your personal experiences.) And don’t just stop at one. Your career could be a branch off of one of these topics, or even a path to solve the problem you address.
When did you last feel alive?
Take your time to answer this. When were you last working on a project that got you in “the groove.” When did you last feel like you were thriving in a task? (It doesn’t have to be related to a job or vocation!) Have you ever had the thought, “THIS is what I was made to do?”
Think big picture. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 20? 50?
Ask yourself, who do you want to be then? Don’t necessarily think about the job you’re working, think about the person you want to be. How do you get there? Keep your 50-year-old self in mind while you consider how to decide on a major. And remember– a college major is not a pigeonhole– it doesn’t have to be the only means toward an end. Instead, see it as a step of developing in a broad sense. (Most college graduates don’t even go into jobs in their field anyway!)
What are you freakishly good at?
Think about the tasks/skills that come naturally to you. These are the things that you watch other people attempt, and say, “I could do that so much faster/better/more efficiently.” It’s good to think about this when choosing a major or field of study, because although we like to think we will be better and more marketable with more skills, we will be well served to be a master of few. Mastering skills you already have an affinity for will ease the process and make higher education more enjoyable for you!
What patterns do you see?
Look back at your answers to the last four questions. What are some patterns that arise? Start big! Are there any large areas of interest that arise? Does pouring into the next generation strike a passion point? Are you interested in the human psyche? Do you find the hard data and crunching the numbers intriguing? Are there any broad academic departments that you see yourself falling into? If so, you’re halfway there!!
Now that you’ve done some baseline brainstorming, the next step for those of you asking about how to decide on a major is to check out Grace College’s comprehensive list of majors — divided intentionally to help you discover new and unique majors you didn’t even know existed!
Click into a few majors that sound intriguing! You’ll find that each major page lists what characteristics make for a good fit in that major. For example, Digital Marketing is a good fit for those who are: flexible, fast-paced, continuously learning, results-oriented, adaptable, team players, tech-savvy, and positive. At Grace College, we want to make the search for a major easier on you, so you will find internships and career opportunities listed on each page too!
So, what do you want to be when you grow up?
We’re not suggesting that you now have a comprehensive answer, BUT now when people ask the long-begrudged question, you have a place to start. Tell them what you discovered in these exercises. Tell them about your passions and your gifts, and let your community speak into your life and your future! You never know who God might use to guide you along the way!