By: Emma '14
Congratulations – you have finally made it to college! After a long and grueling applications process, you have selected a university that matches you and your interests and that you expect will help you succeed. Such a weight off of your shoulders! Unfortunately, the easy part is over. Now, you have to focus your efforts on choosing a major.
Choosing a major is the most important decision you make at college. Your major is the reason why you are in college and it will prepare you for your future professional life after graduation. Your choice of a major is the difference between becoming a marine biologist or becoming a photographer, or between becoming a psychologist or becoming a mathematician. Your major can determine what you will be going to do for the rest of your life. And yes, I know that statement is rather scary.
Fortunately, there is a plethora of resources right here on our campus that you can use to get information about what major could be right for you. There are people at Roger Williams University who are here solely to help those who have not quite figured out what they want to declare as their major. Our office, the University Advising Center (UAC), focuses primarily on helping students who are still in the processing of deciding their major make a confident and informed decision on selecting a major that they feel comfortable with and are excited about. As a Peer Advisor Leader (PAL), my job as an intern in the UAC is to help students who are still deciding pick a major that will make them happy. Since everyone at the UAC works to help deciding students, this is one of the first places that you should go to if you have not declared a major yet. The Career Center is also an environment focused on helping students. The Career Center is where students can go to speak to advisors about internship, co-op, and career opportunities, as well as learning methods and strategies to apply one’s personal interests to a potential future career. There are also professors all over campus who have a lot of experience and are usually always willing to talk to students about their own personal careers and endeavors (why they picked their specific field, what coursework was required to obtain their degree, etc.). Deciding students should also speak with upperclassmen who have declared majors – this can be a big help in choosing a major. After all, upperclassmen were once in your shoes – they had to find and use these resources themselves, and they should be able to supply a wealth of information regarding the multitude of resources out there on our campus (plus sometimes it’s less intimidating to talk to a peer rather than a superior).
In addition to those willing to help you in your pursuit of finding a rewarding major, you are the key to helping yourself. You are the one who knows what your interests are, you are the one familiar with your own educational goals, you are the one setting your own financial and relationship ambitions for the future and you are the only one in charge of your own life. It is important to factor in your own personal interests when choosing a major. No area of interest is ever too out of the box to pursue. Obscure areas of interest often come about when students take elective courses that do not apply to their major interests. These classes can be taken and then used as a minor, core concentration perhaps, or even a second major. In order for the investment of college to pay off and for one’s future career to be satisfying, one must pick a major that combines personal interests with his or her personality type in addition to one’s skills.
Just like any major decision, your past plays a role in choosing a major. If you had a job working retail and absolutely detested it, then you should not go into a business field that could involve marketing in the retail arena. If you had a job working with children and totally fell in love with it, lights and signals should be going off in your head – BAM! – you could incorporate your love of working with children into your career path. Again, it’s your life – spend it doing something that you want to do! You don’t want to wake up every day and hate going to work. The time to get on the right path is now. Try taking a painting class if you loved art in high school, or a math class if you have previously excelled in math-related courses. This will help you narrow down your interests. By eventually finding an area of study that you love, you will be able to enjoy going to class everyday, and will be proud to one day hold a degree in an area that you are not only competent in, but that you get pleasure from.
When you find satisfaction in something, the benefits of things tend to outweigh the costs. Always seek happiness – find a field that you love and get into it. Like I said, it’s your life. Grab onto it and fill it with things that you enjoy. Choosing a major that is significant to you (not your parents, not your roommate, not your significant other, not your neighbor – YOU) will not only bring you satisfaction with your work, it will also allow you to fill your college years with meaningful experiences. So what are you waiting for? Explore your resources, talk to people who can steer you in the right direction, and take steps towards what you envision yourself doing with your life. Twenty years from now you don’t want to come home from work every night wishing you had done things differently. You don’t want to be kicking yourself for going to work in a mundane office job when your true desire was to be a free-spirited artist. Get to work now – seize your time at RWU, make use of the resources at the University Advising Center to help you choose a major that will support what you want, and make a positive impact on your own life.