Choosing an academic major for college is one of the most important decisions students make as they prepare for careers and professions. While some students have known what they wanted to be since they were three years old, others often agonize over the decision with their college experience right around the corner.
Regardless of where you are on that continuum, and whether or not you are already enrolled in college, you should consider these following questions and how the answers might relate to your career interests and academic program.
What are your interests and skills, and in what employment field can you envision yourself working — possibly for the rest of your working life? What area does your guidance counselor or academic adviser think might best fit your skills and ambition?
What is a major and what is the difference between a major and a minor? When should you declare a major? What if you cannot decide on a major before starting college?
First of all, it’s OK to enter college as an undecided or undeclared major. You do not have to know what you really want to major in — or, for that matter, what you wish to do with the rest of your life — during your major search process.
Attending college gives you the opportunity to take classes you think you might enjoy or even classes on subjects you have never experienced before, according to College Board, a non-profit organization seeking to expand access to higher education.
Maybe once you’ve taken several classes — and possibly you’ve surprised yourself by how much you enjoyed them — you might think about a career track in which it might be beneficial to focus on multiple academic areas.
In addition to a major, you might wish to minor in one or more fields in order to obtain significant exposure to a subject but not at the level of a major.
For students finding themselves in that situation, they also might consider an alternative academic program like Wilmington College’s “Self-Designed Major” (SDM), which students with certain educational goals can design in lieu of a traditional major.
Students with SDMs fulfill all the general education courses required of students with traditional majors. However, for the balance of their courses, they consult with a planning team in assembling their unique curriculum.
WC students considering an SDM should obtain counsel from their academic advisers since a minimum grade point average is required and it must be approved by the associate vice president for academic affairs before completion of 44 credit hours. Transfer students bringing in more than 44 credit hours must have approval within the first semester of enrollment.
So, for those students unsure of what they wish to declare as their major, you have time and options to make the choice that’s best for you.
Dennis Kelly is senior vice president/chief enrollment officer at Wilmington College. A nationally known enrollment administrator, he has consulted and presented extensively on higher education and post-graduation career choices.