Do You Need to Select a Major Before Applying to College?

Do You Need to Select a Major Before Applying Do You Need to Select a Major Before Applying to College?
Do You Need to Select a Major Before Applying Do You Need to Select a Major Before Applying to College?

Guest Post by: Alexandra, College Connections Consultant

When working with a student and choosing a major, it can be on both sides of the spectrum. On one hand, I’ll get a student that already has an idea of what they want to study and has spent a lot of time researching the major and mapping out their entire career path before my eyes. On another note, I get parents making the decision for the student, and I attempt to intervene early on in the process of college planning for this type of student. Most of the time, I do get students that are undecided on a major, and we spend some time going through different assessments to figure out what their interests, skills, values, and career goals may be. In these different scenarios, I find that neither student is at an advantage or disadvantage for having selected a major or going in undecided.

I do find that having somewhat of an idea on selecting a certain path can be helpful, but I reassure students that the exposure they will obtain on a college campus will help them carve out their career path for them. I find that high school students get the same type of classes and are exposed to the general education courses most students would get at any school. However, once they enroll in a college campus, they are exposed to so many different programs, and I remind students that they should use the first two years to be more open minded and take a few risks by selecting courses they would have never been exposed to before. This opportunity allows students to learn more about themselves and even decide if they want to continue with the program or not.
On the other side, I do get students letting me know that they’ve changed their major several times because they discovered other programs that were a better fit for them. Once you choose a major, you’re required to take general education requirement courses so that the colleges ensure you have a well-rounded education and become familiar with a wide variety of subjects. This will most likely happen to every student, and overall, this is what is most exciting about college.

In a sense, as we know it, selecting a major is preparation to enter into the career or profession one is interested in. However, with the rapid pace of technology and social media, some careers or majors didn’t exist five years ago. It would be interesting to look through a course catalog of majors ten or even five years ago and compare that to what we can view now on a college course catalog. Students should be prepared and gentle to themselves if they do change their majors or minds about a certain path they thought they had mapped out. As a college counselor, I remind my students about this possibility, and they are more at ease about the college planning process.

Alexandra obtained a Master in Arts in Educational Psychology at the University of San Francisco and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at the University of San Diego. Alexandra has been working as a college counselor for the last eight years in the Bay Area. She obtained a Certificate of College Counseling at the University of California Berkeley Extension program to better help her students in college counseling and planning.
Alexandra also teaches for the UCLA Extension College Certificate Program.