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Choosing a Major Requires Self-Examination and Research

Choosing a Major Requires Self-Examination and Research

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By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, Online Learning Tips

Choosing a major in college isn’t always an easy decision. You may even change your degree program during your time at the university. In fact, the National Center of Education Statistics says that at least 30% of associate and bachelor degree students change their major at least once within three years of initial enrollment.

How to Know When You’ve Picked the Right Academic Program

When I enrolled for my bachelor’s degree at a brick-and-mortar university, I wasn’t 100% clear on what I wanted to study or what type of career I wanted to pursue. I initially enrolled as a theater major. Throughout my life, I have always loved the performing arts and thought it would be interesting to learn about theater history and the craftsmanship behind theatrical performances.

I took classes in acting, the technical aspects of theater, theater history and other subjects related to my theater major. I also took some elective courses and general education classes that I needed to fulfill graduation requirements.

About halfway through my sophomore year, I arrived at a standstill. I had taken all of the theater courses that interested me and I didn’t particularly favor the other courses in the program.

And then I took a hard look at my elective courses. Many of them were English classes, so I began to think, “Hmmm….maybe I should become an English major?” I researched the program’s requirements, liked what I saw and went to a former instructor who agreed to act as my faculty advisor. She helped me to put through the paperwork needed to change majors and a short time later, I became an English major.

I was glad that I made the switch, because it felt right. I enjoyed my literature courses and classes in topics such as technical writing have proven useful in my current career as a writer and editor.

Also, changing majors so early had another benefit. Three of my theater classes also counted toward the credits I needed for my bachelor’s degree in English, so I was already nine credits ahead after I changed majors. Ultimately, I graduated with a B.A. cum laude in English with minors in theater and German (another area of interest).

Advice for Choosing a Major

Choosing a major requires some self-examination. What are the classes you find most interesting? In high school or community college, for instance, what classes gave you the opportunity to excel? Taking a look at previous classes you’ve taken, like I did with my elective courses, can lead to some insights about what interests you.

Check job ads regularly to stay on top of what skills are in demand for your type of profession, so you can be sure you acquire the knowledge or certifications you need. Many jobs require at least a fundamental understanding of the Microsoft Office suite of programs; other jobs might require a specialized knowledge of software such as SharePoint.

Also, it’s a good idea to research the long-term job forecast for the type of job you seek. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a useful resource. Take a look at professional associations as well; they often have educational resources written by experts in the field.

Remember that University Resources Are Available to You

If you’re exploring the possibility of entering a new profession and are unsure about a long-term commitment to a degree, consider pursuing a certification at the undergraduate or graduate degree level. These classes can be useful in helping you learn more information about the industry that you want to enter.

Are you unsure about what to study or can’t choose between two different programs? You can mark “undergraduate courses for transfer” on the enrollment application and take some general education classes as you decide on your academic program. (Note: You will NOT be eligible for federal student aid if you choose this route.) For additional assistance on choosing a major, contact an Admissions representative at info@apus.edu or call 877-755-2787.

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