The Journey to Finding a College Major
College is a pivotal time. The excitement of being out on your own for the first time is a big moment. In the years to come, there are many decisions to be made, the major one being “what will you study while in school?” Choosing a major is an important decision, I personally switched my major six times before finally deciding on what I am studying now.
During the major evaluation process, I had so many interests that it was challenging to choose a field of study. I came in studying communications and really enjoyed the classes I was taking but I had also thought about studying music. I briefly changed my major to worship leading but changed within a month. I changed it back to communications and decided on the public relations track. I stuck with PR for a year before adding Humanitarian Leadership as a second major.
This entire process led me to wonder why people choose the major they do. Is what they are studying something they are passionate about? Is their field of study based on the influence of family members? For example, are they studying education because a parent is a teacher? Did an important figure make such a big impact that it influenced what they study now?
As of the 2018-19 school year, North Central University has a 93% acceptance rate. More than 80% make it past their freshman year, which is higher than the national average of 67%. These statistics are based on students who drop out or transfer during their first year. While NCU has a better rate for students making it past their freshman year, only 46% of students graduate in four years. One cause is the delay in choosing or sticking with a major.(1)
Graduating in four years is usually what is most advertised when students first start their undergraduate studies, but this seems to not necessarily be a reality for everyone. Not choosing a major by the start of junior year may impact graduating on time (on time being four years). The majority of NCU graduates often require five or six years to complete their degree.
Choosing a Field of Study
“I have always been fascinated by the human condition and have had questions that Psychology allows me to pursue; Humanitarian Leadership combines that love for humanity with a compassionate response and has given me a lot of tools if I decide to pursue a nonprofit or disaster relief route,” said 2022 senior Olivia Anderson.
Many people are immediately confident in what they want to study. They grow up knowing what they want to do, and they never stray away from that path. Klaire Turney who is a 2022 sophomore in the Visual Arts program is a prime example of this. When I asked her why she chose Visual Arts she said, “I have grown up loving art my whole life and always creating so when it came to choosing my major this was the one.”
For her, it was an easy decision. She also shared that she had not originally planned on coming to college; it had been a last-minute decision that she made three weeks before school started. Turney grew up a missionary kid, so she had planned to go back into the mission field once the Covid-19 mandates were lifted. School was not part of the plan for her. Her brother had decided to go to college, so she also decided to go with him and that’s how she ended up at North Central.
Others come in decided but after taking a few classes decide that maybe the field they are in is not for them. I have talked to many students who have changed their major because they found that they were not satisfied or passionate about the classes they were taking.
Changing Field of Studies
“I came in as undecided but quickly landed in the Global Studies program which I kept until the beginning of my second year,” said 2022 junior Lindsey Overturf.
There are many people who come in undecided or unsure about what they want to study. Anderson, who is a senior in the Psychology and Humanitarian Leadership, programs came not knowing what she wanted to study. “Coming into college I was very undecided and switched from Exploratory to English to BATS, and finally Psychology,” said Anderson. She shared that she decided on Psychology her freshman year and added Humanitarian Leadership her junior year after hearing about it through some friends. She realized with adding another major she was still able to graduate in four years.
There are also people who consider changing their majors, but do not. Many go through with that decision and that can extend their education further than they expected. This is something that Isakar Lopez, a 2022 senior in the Psychology program faced. “There was a point in time when I was considering swapping to pastoral studies or social work, however in the end I chose psychology.” Lopez did not end up changing his major, but it was something that he had considered for a little while. He shared with that whether he changed his major or not, he was going to end up going into the same field. All changing his major would do was extend the amount of time he would be at North Central. To him, the switch did not seem worth the strife.
“As far as career and family plans, in five years I will be married and would like to be in or finished with a master’s program in a related field. In 10 years, I would like to have children and be working in an education setting, preferably higher education either in the classroom or in the administration of some sort.” said 2022 senior Chloe Cyr.
During our whole college career, we are constantly asked what we plan to do after we graduate. From the moment you decide what you want to study you are asked what your plans are for that path. Some fields have obvious end goals such as education degrees. We know that they more than likely plan on being a teacher but with degrees in fields such as communications, the result may not be as much apparent.
There are many people who come in knowing what they are going to study, and the exact result they want but this is not true for the majority. For many people, it is a long journey of learning about themselves and what they like. What they are passionate about and what they hope to accomplish someday. It looks different for everyone.
The End Goal
It feels like there are moments when we are constantly hearing double negatives. When you are a freshman, you are told to take your time and not worry about choosing yet but at the same time, everyone is asking what you want to study. As a senior you are constantly asked what you plan to do with the degree you are getting but also told to not be in a rush because you are still young and have plenty of time. Students can feel tugged in two different directions constantly.
College is an exciting and crazy time. Choosing a major is important in formatting what you want to do with your future. For some students it can feel like a difficult choice and for others it is the easiest decision. Everyone is different and nobody’s experience is the same. We are all running our own race, for some this takes four years, for others, it will take them five. Run at your own pace and everything will fall into place in its own time.
“North Central University Graduation Rate & Retention Rate.” College Factual, 20 Feb. 2013