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Having Major Problems.

February 25, 2019

Choosing your major in college can be hard. Some students come to college knowing exactly what they’ve wanted to be since they were five years old; others aren’t so sure. Whether you’re already in college or you’re currently applying, here are four tips to finding the major that’s right for you.

Distinguishing Between a Major and a Minor. What’s the difference?

A major is a specific subject area that college students choose to specialize in. Around one-third to one-half of the courses you’ll take in college will be related to your major. Some colleges (including the University of Minnesota) allow you to design your own major by combining a few existing ones together. A minor is an added bonus. It’s a secondary field you can study while completing your major degree. Minors allow you to specialize in a field but require fewer courses (or credits) compared to a major. Some majors require you to minor in another specialized area while others do not.

Choosing when to Declare your Major 

Depending on your major, you might need to come into college already declared, or you could wait to declare it later on once you’ve given it some “major thought.” For example, if you want to join the nursing program at the University of Minnesota, they require an early commitment so you can take all the required classes and graduate on time. But generally, four-year colleges won’t require you to declare your major until the end of your second year. During your first year of college, you should take introductory classes to figure out which subjects you enjoy and which you could live without (math is definitely not my forte!). 

Having a Back-Up Plan 

While it’s nice to have your whole life figured out by the time you’re 19 years old, things don’t always go according to plan. In case your major doesn’t work out, try to come up with one or two backups. College Board studies show that most students change majors at least once and many students switch several times—and that's 100 percent OK. 

Use your Resources

Your school counselor, parents, cousins, siblings, and professionals in your intended field of study are your best bet for finding information about college and potential majors. Knowing that you’re not alone in the process of selecting your major is the best thing you can do for yourself. Talk to the people around you to find the information that you need.