Feeling like you’ll never figure out what you want to be when you grow up?
A lot of adults would tell you they know the feeling. Sometimes you grow into a career, asking lots of questions along the way, rather than growing up knowing your career. So deciding on a major can be hard, especially if you’ve never felt like a superstar in any one area. Fortunately, you don’t have to lock yourself into a major by day one of classes. College offers all sorts of outlets for figuring out what to do with the rest of your life.
1. Take electives
If you don’t have a path picked out — or even if you just KNOW you’ll be an medicinal chemist like your mom — it’s worth taking a few random classes to see if they pique your interest. Innovation Management? Rococo Art History? Astronomy and the Cosmos? Who knows, you might be the next great paleontologist, if only you try that intro course.
2. Look for the little things that interest you.
While you’re in general classes or electives, figure out ways the subject matter can apply to you, says one grad who discovered her career passion thanks to a 100-level course outside of her original major.
For example, a biology class might not seem relevant to an art student — until the art student finds thesis inspiration from molecular structures. And a dance class may seem totally irrelevant to a political science student, until the student learns the way intercultural conflict affected how dances developed.
Basically, everything is connected.
3. Join a club.
Or two, or three (but beware of burnout!). When you get to college, you’re going to be surrounded by hundreds (and probably thousands) of passionate classmates. Lots of them are exploring ideas and options, but then there’s that student who has wanted to be the Secretary of State since age four and thus is running an awesome Politics Club. Go for one or two meetings and see if anything catches your interest.
Clubs and organizations are also a great way to blow off steam and give you a break from your studies. Who knows? Salsa dancing could be the best way to recover from your fourth lab of the week.
4. Visit the career center.
Just about every college has staff dedicated to helping you figure out what career will be the best fit for your personality, skills and interests. Sometimes all you need is an outsider who can say, “You talk a lot about unicorns, and from everything you’ve said, you’re really great at handling magical creatures. Have you heard about our Unicorn Training major?”
Career centers offer tons of resources like personality assessments, career exploration materials and one-on-one coaching with a career counselor. Once you’ve decided on a major, keep going back — the experts there can help you refine your resume, practice interviewing and get internships and jobs down the road.
5. Be fearless.
We say this a lot at College-Bound Colorado. That’s because what matters more than your raw talent is your willingness to work hard to succeed, according to psychologist and author Angela Lee Duckworth. So don’t despair of finding that job that’s going to fit both your skills and likes. You know how people say, “Do something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Well…we’ll just say that no matter how much you enjoy your job, there will be days you’d rather stay home and watch Stranger Things in bed and eat Eggos. Remember, your job does not equal your identity. Once you’ve shed that pressure, you’ll be free to start exploring what you want to explore, fearlessly!