Yes, it's OK to not know what you want your college major to be

"I'm totally going to be a doctor," I vowed freshman year, as I packed my schedule with AP stem classes to prep for college. Yeah, big mistake.

Fast forward to the awkward convo I had with my counselor junior year about how me and science seriously did not vibe. Like at *all.* As the year went on, I felt the pressure from literally everyone who kept me asking about it. Each time I had to give them the same shoulder shrug of shame and hit them with the classic: "I don't really know, haha." 

Had I wasted my entire high school career on classes I wasn't even going to need? Should I just suck it up and study science anyways? It's safe to say: Ditching my original plan was the best thing I could've ever done.

Being pressured to choose your college major in high school when you high-key don't know what you want to study is so scary. But why do we have a strict timeline about choosing majors before college applications? Or even by the time high school graduation rolls around?

If you're anything like me, you've been avoiding that college major convo because you don't really know what path you want to take. Take it from me, not knowing is entirely OK and doesn't mean you're a failure at all. Here's why you don't have to know right away what major you're choosing. Plus, we've even got some advice for the girlies that need help figuring it out.

High school classes are great but...


High school classes can bring us our closest friends and some amazing mems, but when it comes to choosing your schedule, there's often not much room to explore. It depends on your high school, ofc, but typically you really only start choosing classes outside of the general requirements around your junior year. Even then, there are significantly fewer options than what most colleges offer. 

When you have a limited sense of what's really out there, it makes sense that you're gonna feel overwhelmed when college starts throwing out course options that you never knew existed. Cut yourself some slack, babe. Your high school likely does a great job of preparing you for some things, but it's not a foolproof guide to the rest of your academic career.

There's actually still *so* much time

As much as it might not feel like it, your academic agenda is not on as tight of a time crunch as you might think. Most universities let their students go in undecided and give them until the end of sophomore year to choose their course of study! The good news? At most institutions, you've got yourself at least two years' worth of trying out classes to see what you actually like and can picture yourself pursuing.

Your likes and dreams can change


As obvious as it might sound, getting older comes with the added bonus of discovering new quirks about yourself. The things you are obsessed with in the future might not even be on your radar rn!

For Madison R., 20., her plans of being a congresswoman or lawyer took a turn as soon as she got to college. "I got here and realized I really wasn't sure if those options would even make me happy," she says. Deciding she would wait to choose her major, Madison had her "a-ha" moment during her sophomore year of college, when she realized how much she liked tutoring other kids in economics.

Now, as an econ major (and even considering going into education later), Madison says there's no reason to be stressing. "It's nice to feel like you can do whatever you want... and realize you [can] enjoy something that you would've never thought of before," she adds.

Your major doesn't determine your future


Sometimes the pressure of choosing a major comes from wanting to pick something that'll 100% guarantee you a certain career path. The reality? Most careers don't require one particular major but are instead dependent on your work experiences and skill set. While certain majors do help you develop the mindset you may need for a set job field, there are so many different paths that can build your toolbox of skills, so don't sweat it. 

Need help deciding? Knowing what you don't like is step one

If you know you hate writing book reports or dread having to put on those safety goggles in chem lab, def avoid majors that would put you in these not-so-ideal circumstances. You're going to be having a lot of study sessions in and out of the classroom, so why not spend that time doing something that really excites you? Enthusiasm about your classes will not only fast-track you into your smart girl era, but tbh, it'll make learning seem like less of a chore.

Don't be afraid to ask questions

If you're struggling to decide what major is for you, asking questions to those who may be in college already (or even your guidance counselor) can be a great place to start. You can also reach out to people who work in a certain career that you might be interested in— something as simple as sending an email could kickstart your next professional girlboss move. If you're more of an online gal, there are tons of quizzes you can take based on your interests that'll reveal the perf major for you. 

Want more back-to-school advice? Check out our Insta for tips @girlslifemag!

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by Annika Chaves | 9/5/2023