My major exploration was a mess. I could not decide what I wanted to do; one minute I was a business major, the next I was trying to do architecture. Through that process though I was able to explore various courses and discover what I loved and didn't. Take the time to figure out what you love and what you don't, where your passions lie, and success will follow.
I took a few classes that sounded interesting and tried to look for things that I wanted to learn about. I wanted my major and career to involve something I was interested in and passionate about. I decided to double major in Psychology and Linguistics because they were open-ended enough to not limit me to one future path, but still focused enough to gain skills and knowledge useful for future positions. Try to remember that a bachelor's degree does not mark out your entire life plan - you will always be able to do something different.
My dad got a degree in Aerospace Engineering from a college that no longer exists. He now works as a medical salesman. He told me, when I was looking to move away from engineering, that regardless of what I learn, it is how I use it that will really determine how things move forward. This gave me confidence that I should pick something I like to study, something I would willingly open a textbook to read.
I started out with an interest in psych, took some courses, really liked biopsychology, and started pursuing biology/pre-med. I always had an interest in pre-med, but wasn't ready for the academic rigor that biology and chemistry courses required. I love writing and critical analysis, so I decided on English. I then took a phonetics course through the Speech & Hearing Sciences department one summer and it all kind of just fell into place. Now I’m in Med School.
When I first came to the University of Washington, I had my heart set on being an artist and pursuing a degree in Art. After my first few quarters, I decided to explore around and came across an Introduction to Communication class. It was in this class that sparked something inside of me. This set me on a path which opened the doors for me to be able to study something that I was passionate about in different avenues through art and communication.
Exploring majors for me was incredibly difficult at first. I knew I wanted to do something involving education, however I wasn’t exactly sure. taking a FIG my first quarter was extremely helpful in figuring out the difference between not being genuinely interested in a major and not doing well in a specific class for that major. With help from my advisor, I found out that I could double major in Psychology and ECO.
I thought I would be a dentist, so I was taking lots of science classes. Later, after I realized I didn't want to continue studying science, I was taking a course about the history of science and religion that was co-listed with History, Anthropology, and Comparative History of Ideas (CHID). I met some CHID students in that course and it sounded like a perfect fit for me. I met with the CHID advisor and decided to do a double degree with CHID and Communication!
When you don't get into the classes that you would like to be in, use those times as opportunities to take other classes that interest you or may not align with your intended major at all. Remember as you go, that your major doesn't equal your career. I majored in business and then hopped into a corporate job out of college. I found that I didn't like the corporate world, and then by a random assortment of experiences and jobs I had (Orientation leader etc.), I decided to make a switch toward pursuing a career in counseling.
I took my first Comparative History of Ideas (CHID) class as a Junior, only to fulfill a Writing (W) credit, but it was hands down the best decision I've ever made in my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without the influence of CHID. This program taught me to think critically about the world in ways that I have never thought possible.
The college experience is what you put into it - take advantage. I ended up working in a field that was very different from what I thought I would do coming into college and my bachelor's degree opened the doors to get me to my next step. I'm 34 now and considering a complete career change - remember that learning is lifelong and you can always change your career and learn a new trade or skill.
Years before I even applied for colleges, I was already planning to major in Public Health. I was denied from Public Health early on, but I applied again. Waiting to hear back, I had a gap quarter where I took some education classes while also working as an Orientation Leader in the Education field. I fell in love with working with people and realized that I was passionate about serving people and furthering educational equity. Ultimately I was accepted into Public Health, but I turned down the offer and chose to declare Education, Communities, and Organizations instead!
When I began college, I was so sure I wanted to be an engineering major because of my passion for physics in high school. However, I quickly found out that I was far more engaged in a geography class I had signed up for on whim - Introduction to Globalization. That one class set me down a path of geography-related coursework and I was enamored with how space/geography could be applied to any topic.
I came in with the intention of majoring in biology and ended up doing so. But for me the realization that major does not equal career was really important. Learning I had multiple career paths was relieving because it meant I wasn’t pigeon holed into one option, which then let me start to rethink my career goals and be more open to the opportunities presented to me. I was deadset on being a doctor when I first entered, but I then learned there are more ways to get involved in healthcare that interested me more which makes me excited about my future.
I originally wanted to major in Psych but once I saw there were math requirements I changed my mind. Then I declared myself a French major but discovered that I wasn’t passionate about it. After a lot of soul searching Sophomore year, I changed to Journalism which was something that always interested me. I’m so glad I took the leap.
I changed my major three times before declaring during my junior year. I never decided for certain which direction I wanted to take, so I ultimately picked the major I most enjoyed - Creative Writing. Take classes that interest and motivate you (bonus points if the content is completely new and unfamiliar), find a mentor to guide you, and know that your undergraduate major does not define your career.