When I received a rejection letter from the ASU Visual Communication program, the first thing I did was make plans to reapply the following year. I bought nearly $400 worth of supplies to that effect.
But about 1 month into my “temporary” Design Management major, I realized something — Visual Communication was only 1 part of a much bigger picture for what I wanted to do.
What if you walked into a car dealership, and the only car they sold was a black, 4-door sedan?
How about walking into a shoe store that only sells a pair of white, size 10 sneakers?
We live in an age of customization. We are able to make the most of things by tailoring them to our needs, and college is no different.
Let me tell you more about how to find the best major for you.
1. Map out your career interests
It’s important to realize that there is nothing wrong with not knowing what to major in, and there are options for this.
It is normal for college students to change their major at least once during the course of their experience (I did).
About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
But getting a head start on a specialized field will help you save money on tuition and advance faster in your career long-term.
Take some time to sit down and think about what you like to do.
- What drives you?
- What excites you?
- And how can you incorporate that into what you do for a living?
From these interests, narrow down your options to the ones you feel strongest about.
For example, here are mine:
2. Establish the foundation for your career
Chemical engineering. Business. Architecture.
These types of majors have been around for a long time, and you’ll find them offered at just about every university. They’re what I call “core” majors. They are majors that encompass an overall craft, or profession.
Now, while it’s true that you can get a job as a literal “Chemical Engineer”, or “Architect”, there’s always more to that.
- What kind of company will you work for?
- What kind of chemical engineering, or architecture will you be doing?
You can see that although you may want to major in Business, there is the opportunity there to customize that Business degree further.
In doing so you will customize the types of courses you take in college that directly attribute to the skill set you will build for your desired profession.
3. Decide what you want to DO, not be.
A student who graduates with a degree in Film may go on to produce movies. But what kind of movies? If they make commercials, for what company? What products? What services?
Trust me when I say that this matters.
Are you going to make commercials for the tobacco industry, or a hospital?
When we choose a job, it is more than just the general operations of the job itself, it’s WHO we work for, and what we represent that plays a role in our decision.
Look at the career interests that you mapped out in Step 1. What else is there besides your foundational, “core” interest?
Hold onto these for the next step.
4. Explore your options for customizing your degree
Ok. We’ve reached the point where you know what you want to do, both generally and in a little more detail — fantastic!
Now it’s time to look at your options for customization. Meaning, what universities are you interested in, and what do they offer to help you shape your major around your interests?
Most colleges have 3 options for this:
- An additional major
- A minor
- A certificate
I wanted to tailor my degree to include design, business, marketing, and project management, so I added a minor in Media Analysis, and a Sales and Marketing Essentials Certificate, and bam.
Now my studies include a wide range of everything that I am interested in and is applicable to my desired field, from Visual Communication Design to Social Media and Digital Marketing to the consequences and influence of Mass, Multimedia on society.
And guess what? ASU is not the only school that has these options.
5. Keep an open mind
The reality of college is that no one quite knows what they’re doing in the beginning. And there is no set timeline for when you will figure it out. I have friends who are still deciding what they want to do, and friends who graduated a year early.
Granted, the longer you stay in college, the pricier it will be.
Which is why I recommend that you also get involved elsewhere in college. Taking advantage of the diverse offerings your university has will keep you open to different possibilities in your future!
Ways to get involved in college
- Intramural sports
- Clubs — When I went to my orientation at ASU, I remember them telling me there was even a “chocolate-lovers” club.
- Greek organizations
- Student organizations
- Competitive Teams (Like a school sales team, or speech & debate)
- Jobs on campus
- Communities (Communities form on campuses around activities like salsa dancing and video gaming)
- Take electives that introduce you to new perspectives/people
Whatever major you decide, this is important: Go to class and do your best to learn the material.
Even if you find a major extremely difficult, you may also recognize that you are passionate about what you are learning, and see the worth in continuing.
That’s all I have for you. The future is yours, so take advantage of every opportunity you have to make it brighter. 🙂
To review, the steps for finding the best major for YOU were:
- Map out your career interests
- Establish the foundation for your career
- Decide what you want to DO, not be.
- Explore your options for customizing your degree
- Keep an open mind
What is the best major for you? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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