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Choosing a college major is a daunting task. Take comfort in knowing that the major listed on your application is not set in stone. Being “undecided” or choosing once you get to college is perfectly acceptable! You may feel the college major you choose will dictate the rest of your life, but that’s not necessarily true. On the flip side, you will take lots of classes within your major, so make sure it’s something you enjoy and is practical in the job market.

Tips for choosing a college major

1. Shadow professionals in a few potential careers

Shadowing gives you a “day in the life” view. This allows you to see if this is something you envision yourself doing or something to cross off the list. If you are in high school, your school counselor may be able to help you with finding these opportunities. Pick the brains of those you are shadowing about what kind of courses/college major that they recommend.

2. Visit your college career center early and often

The career center provides helpful resources like aptitude tests to show you majors/careers that may be a good fit for you based on your values, skillsets, and passions. It’s also good to establish a relationship with the career center, They’ll be helpful when it comes to looking for an internship and full-time position.

3. Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook website

This provides a summary of each career, average salary, education requirements, job outlook, similar careers, and so much more!

4. When you need to choose your college major by

Typically, it’s safe to say sophomore year of college is when the final decision should be made, although each college and program is going to be a bit different. Your first year typically revolves around “general education” courses that fulfill requirements in science, history, foreign language, math, and art. This  gives you some flexibility and time to explore different paths. Your decision process may be sped up if you come to college with previous college credits, you choose a program with special admission criteria (e.g. an audition for music, dance, or theater), or if your major requires a separate application (e.g. nursing or engineering programs).

5. What to do if you fall out of love with your original college major

There comes a point in time where you have to fully commit to your major. So what do you do if the initial spark you had for your major isn’t there and you’re at the point of no return? Explore the different paths your major provides. You may have envisioned yourself doing one thing with your major and discover a completely different path. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, people change career fields two or three times in their lives. Focus on the transferable skills you can acquire that are valuable to any field you decide to pursue.

There’s no doubt that your major shapes your college experience. Choosing a college major is an important decision that should get lots of thought. However, there are so many other factors that contribute to post-college success outside of your major.