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For many students, figuring out how to know what to go to college for can feel daunting. Some career paths are straightforward, like becoming a dentist or a lawyer. However, many employers hire across industries because they’re looking for people with unique skill sets.
If you’re struggling to choose a college major, you’re not alone. Thousands of students switch majors or enter school undecided every year. Here are seven steps you can take to find a college major that will also help you build a fulfilling career.
- Shake Off the Pressure
Many students feel an enormous amount of pressure to find the perfect major. Millennials and zoomers tend to see their job as part of their identity, which leads to a lot of pressure when choosing a major. What if you get it wrong?
It’s okay to not have your life figured out at 18, 20, or even 24. Reducing the pressure can open you up to more opportunities and experiences that can help refine your decisions. If you can allow yourself to fail, you’ll also learn how to succeed.
- Consider Your Passions
Passion is more than just an emotion. It’s easy to get excited about an activity or idea if you’re not doing it for 40 hours a week. Real passion is a deep conviction that’s central to the core of who you are. It doesn’t change from day to day the way emotions do.
Take some time to think about your passions. You could be passionate about helping people improve their relationships, protecting ocean health or cleaning up the internet with quality writing. A good major should help you express and fulfill that passion through a career.
- Explore New Subjects
If you’re not sure what your passions are, that’s okay. Most colleges allow you to take classes for one to two years before you declare a major. During this time, you can take general education classes and branch out to try new things.
College is a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you love. You’ll know you’ve found your passion when you can’t stop talking and thinking about a specific idea. Your major should be a practical way to focus on your passion during college and beyond.
- Make Positive Connections
Not everyone finds their passion through classwork. Talking to other people can often bring insight to how to know what to go to college for you won’t find in course material. Before and during college, you can talk to professors, academic advisors, mentors and your peers to learn more about different industries and potential careers.
The more networking you do, the more opportunities you’ll have to learn about yourself and what kind of job you might enjoy. Push through the discomfort of meeting new people and keep widening your circle. Networking can give you inside information on specific careers and help you align your passions with a future job.
- Learn From Experience
Job experience will teach you more about yourself and what you’re looking for in your future work. During college, you can take advantage of part-time jobs and internships to get clarity on your major. You can also ask industry professionals to let you shadow them at work.
Although good grades are important, hobbies will help you develop valuable skills and become a well-rounded person. An interesting minor can add perspective to your major and equip you for the future in surprising ways. In other words, treat your college years as a learning experience!
- Think about Finances
A lot of stress college students feel is financial. Many students worry they’re wasting time and resources by not knowing how to know what to go to college for while at school. This is a valid concern and sometimes it’s wiser to take a gap year to learn about yourself in a less expensive way.
However, the college environment does offer many unique opportunities to learn about yourself. You’re immersed in a learning mindset and have access to internships, part-time work as well as networking. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide where you’ll find the best value for your time and money.
- Consider Alternatives
If you’re concerned about going to school without a chosen major, take some time to consider your alternatives. What could you do instead of college? A few options include trade school, taking a gap year to travel or taking a full-time job to gain experience.
You could also start your own business, get an internship or join a special training program like the military. The possibilities are endless. If you’re set on going to college, ask yourself why. Keep in mind that your next decision doesn’t have to last forever – you can always switch jobs, move cities or go to school at a later time.
Figuring Out How to Know What to Go to College For
If you’re unsure what to go to school for, don’t panic. Finding the right major and career is a process that takes both action and reflection. First, you need to gather information about yourself, what you’re passionate about and how that might translate to a job.
As you gain experience through internships, networking and college classes, take time to reflect on what you’re learning. Everyone’s career path is different and that’s a good thing. With enough action, reflection and experimentation, you’ll find the major and career path that’s best for you.