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Choosing a College Major

GWU Students at career day

Let’s face it, a lot of us don’t know exactly what we want to do with our lives when we come to college. That’s totally okay – while you can declare your major as early as the second semester of your freshman year, most students don’t declare until late in their sophomore year. It often takes getting into your intended major specific classes to truly gauge whether or not you want to continue with it. And, there’s no shame in changing your major or picking something that’s not mainstream. You’re the one that’s going to class and taking tests. You should be interested in what you’re studying!

College is a time to find yourself, discover the things you enjoy, and gain insight into what you could see yourself doing in the future. It’s important to spend some time exploring what majors may be a good fit for you. Here are some tips that may help you when it comes to choosing a major! 


Think about the things that you thoroughly enjoy doing. Is it profitable? What industries have jobs that could relate to these interests? If it is possible to get paid for the things that interest you – embrace it especially if you can potentially get paid for it! Take time to jot down your interests and bullet point under each specific career that those could fall under. The number one thing that you hear growing up is to do something you love so that it doesn’t feel like a job!


Understanding your skillset and abilities and where those strengths play a role in your success is very important. Do you enjoy writing? How about math? Consider what you will be doing in your major classes – if you don’t like performing chemistry experiments, you probably won’t want to major in it. Same goes with English – if writing or books bore you, this may not be your best fit. It’s also important to think about your general education classes and the abundance of things that you will learn just in your first year. New strengths and abilities may surface through the work that you do in these classes which can steer you in the right direction toward choosing a major.


What was the job you dreamed about doing as a kid? While you may not be interested in being an astronaut anymore, becoming a doctor, lawyer, police officer, or whatever your dream was, it’s still possible! College equips you with the tools needed to pursue your dreams – whatever they may be. Look at the Academic Catalog that details every class in every major. What relates to the field you want to pursue? If the classes sound interesting to you, chances are you may be interested in that major. 


 As an incoming freshman, you will be assigned an advisor who is there to help you determine which classes to take. They can help you decide what classes best suit your interests, and help you plan for the next four years.  Another great resource is the Center for Personal and Professional Development. In addition to hosting events like Resume Workshops, Mock Interviews, and career fairs, they can help you connect with internship opportunities in a variety of areas. 


There are a number of career and strength assessments that are very beneficial when it comes to exploring major and career paths. Our top two suggestions are: 

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

MBTI gives you your personality “type” according to their analysis. It allows you to understand what motivates you, makes you eager to learn, how you make decisions, and more. At the end of the test, it gives you a list of career paths based on your assessment results. This information can provide insight into your strengths and weaknesses, and it can be helpful to determine what type of major would be good for you.

Gallup Strengths Finder 

The Strengths Finder assessment gives you a number of questions and a specific time to answer each one. In the end, you will get a list of your top five strengths. It allows you to discover what you do best naturally, learn how to develop your greatest talents, and use your results to live a fulfilling life and career. 

All in all, remember to take your time when it comes to choosing your major. Consider what you’ll enjoy most in the long run – after all, four years is a long time to spend taking major classes that you don’t enjoy. Taking your time to explore your strengths and interests will not only help you choose a major but will prepare you for life and work after college.

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