By Ryan Laspina
Analyst, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
Whether you are fresh out of high school or going back to school for the first time in decades, you may not know exactly what you want to study right away. Many people go to college because they want to pursue a specific degree that is necessary to enter a certain job field that interests them. Others take courses for personal enrichment.
However, students who are not quite sure of which profession or area of study they would like to pursue may feel pressured to pick a certain degree program before they start classes.
In most cases, schools allow students to start out their college experience as “Undeclared,” “Undecided,” “General Studies” or another degree program along those lines. But how do you determine which academic program and classes are best suited to you?
Complete a Self-Assessment
Think about what interests you, what kind of work you like to do and what kind of job setting you would prefer. It is perfectly fine to come up with broad answers to those questions. Also, this exercise might help you eliminate certain degree programs and careers you do not wish to pursue.
Take Classes That Interest You
In the first semester, one of the best ways for an undecided student to pick a degree program is to take a diverse group of classes. If you come across a subject that interests you, look into pursuing it further.
Talk with Your Academic Advisor and Financial Aid Advisor
Your academic advisor and your financial aid advisor can provide information that is helpful for making the difficult decision of what to study and how to pay for it. Your academic advisor can help you determine what degree programs would mesh well with your interests and goals, skills, study habits and preferred learning style. Your financial aid advisor can provide information and resources to help you pay your educational expenses.
Do Your Research before You Change Your Degree Program
If you feel it’s time to change your academic program, explore your school’s catalog and research programs that interest you. You can also discuss your options with your academic advisor if you feel a program change may be necessary.
Remember that selecting one degree program does not lock you into it for life. While it’s advisable to pick the program you want to pursue as early in the process as possible, changing your program is always a possibility.
College is the ideal time to explore new ideas, cultures and viewpoints. Choosing a degree program is an important decision that will have a large impact on the rest of your life.