The Stress of Picking a Major
With hundreds of degree programs to choose from, students may find the process of selecting a major difficult and overwhelming. From English to biology, economics to education, students are offered a broad range of topics to hone their interests and prepare for their future careers, but many remain undecided during their first semester, or even year, at college. Undeclared students often feel a pressure to choose a major, as many of their peers already have, but without a definitive pathway, that decision can appear daunting. However, making the choice is far from impossible.
At this stage in a student’s education, indecisiveness can cause unnecessary stress, and the best way to alleviate it is to consider one’s options and interests. Discover what excites you, what modes of education best suit your needs, and explore career paths you find appealing. Narrowing down your interests is the easiest path to finding a degree that best suits you, and it often means exploring the many degree programs colleges have to offer. For the undecided student, a more general major may be the best choice, as it offers exposure to a broad range of educational models, topics, and potential career paths. A versatile major, in combination with knowledge regarding your own strengths and goals, will alleviate the stress of indecisiveness and lead to a successful undergraduate education.
The following is a list of the top 10 best majors for indecisive students:
- Liberal Studies
- Public Policy
What it offers:
Among the most versatile of degrees is biology. A degree in biology offers exposure to a broad range of topics within the world of nature and healthcare. It assists students in developing the necessary experience required for careers as medical professionals, botanists, biochemists, educators, and more. The biology major unlocks multiple career options and contains several specializations and concentrations. For those with a curiosity for living organisms, their characteristics, and their roles in the natural world, biology is a perfect fit.
To graduate with a biology major, students should expect to take several courses in chemistry, math, and other sciences. These may include classes in general chemistry, calculus, biostatistics, genetics, ecology, and experimental physics, among many more. In addition to their in-class learning, students will complete laboratory work and research as part of the requirements for graduating with a biology major. This world-based learning can be completed either on-campus or through internships, study abroad programs, and other similar opportunities.
What it offers:
A major in business is an excellent fit for students who desire a generalized education. With the option to specialize, students do not feel forced into a specific category. Rather, vast career options are offered business majors, all of them tailored toward students with strengths in organization, leadership, and problem-solving. A career as an investment banker, financial advisor, business owner, or actuary is possible for students who major in business. One of the best majors for undecided students, business is right for those seeking a general education that allows them areas of specialization and a broad range of viable career paths.
For the general business majors, students should expect courses in finance, accounting, economics, marketing, and public speaking. Depending on students’ chosen specializations, they may focus more on a specific topic (such as human resources management, entrepreneurship, project management, or finance) or they may maintain a more generalized education. Students should also expect group projects, as developing skills in teamwork, leadership, and communication will lead to success in their chosen business careers. Students will be encouraged to form connections with leading professionals through internships and other off-campus opportunities.
What it offers:
Communications is another broad-ranged degree for students interested in journalism, media, film, writing, or general storytelling. “This major is a fit for those who consider themselves media literate and want to study how media shape everyday life” (U.S. News & World Report). Due to its diverse course load, the communications major’s career opportunities are far-reaching and include television, marketing, editor, producer, and graphic designer. This undergraduate major will prepare students for the work necessary to receive a master’s in communication, which is required for high-level positions in academia and management.
The coursework for a communications major is versatile and often changes with the school one chooses to attend. The most common courses include introductory-level classes in research methods, public relations, writing, public speaking, and media. There are several concentrations offered within the communications major that influence the coursework a student will experience. Journalism, public relations, corporate communication, and media studies are among the most popular concentrations, and the elective courses depend on which specialization students choose. A capstone project or thesis will be expected from upperclassmen as a requirement for graduation.
What it offers:
The topics studied as an economics major are applicable to real-world problems, and they provide students with the analytical and critical-thinking skills necessary for policymaking, economic consultation, and risk analysis–all potential career paths for economics majors. This degree is well-suited for students who consider themselves analytical and have an interest in the effective use of money. While the subject is typically associated with business, economics students may pursue careers and/or graduate education in government, law, medicine, and more. Economics is one of the best majors for undecided students because of its many viable career options. It offers students the liberty of choosing from a wide range of fields, and it gives them the ability to specialize if desired.
Immediately upon declaring as economics majors, students should expect courses in micro- and macroeconomics, econometrics, statistics, and calculus. More advanced courses may include game theory, market design, monetary and fiscal policies, international trade, and public finance. A thesis based on a student’s own analytical research is required for graduation with either a B.A. or B.S. in economics.
What it offers:
An education major allows students to explore the process of human learning and the best methods of teaching. As is common for liberal arts degrees, the education major provides flexibility. While many education majors pursue careers in teaching, there are several alternative options for those who wish to explore them. For instance, policymaking, counseling, and publishing are all careers available to education majors, though some higher-level positions may require a master’s degree. A major in education is the perfect fit for students interested in teaching and mentoring the next generation.
The coursework for an education major differs widely and depends on the school or program. There are several specializations offered within the education major, including elementary education, special education, curriculum and instruction, and early childhood education, among others. In addition to in-class learning, a major in education offers students internship opportunities that provide teaching experience in real-world classrooms.
What it offers:
One of the best majors for undecided students, English boasts a broad range of specializations and potential career paths for its graduates. Students will study works in the literary canon and their cultural and historical significance. In addition to literary analysis, English students will be encouraged to hone their own craft, exploring and writing different types of media, from novels and poems to scripts and magazine articles. Upon graduation, English majors may choose to become technical writers, news reporters, copywriters, journalists, et cetera, or they may decide to seek graduate-level education in the fields of law, business, and more.
The coursework for an English degree varies based on the student’s chosen specialization. British literature, creative writing, media and digital studies, visual culture, and modernist studies are just a few of the concentrations offered to English majors. Depending on the track a student chooses, she or he may take courses in screenwriting, American poetry, graphic novels, and filmmaking. With such a broad range of topics, students working toward a degree in English will be able to explore their interests without the unnecessary stress of constraints within a designated major.
What it offers:
While working toward their history degree, students will connect the past to the present, exploring and applying cultural relevance to historical events. History students will be expected to evaluate the past critically. Therefore, strong critical thinking skills are recommended and will be developed throughout the student’s years as a history major. An intense curiosity in historical events, politics, and culture is also recommended.
A wide-reaching major with several concentrations and career opportunities, history allows students to explore their interests and discover what eras and subjects excite them. Students with a history degree may enter the workforce immediately upon graduation as paralegals, financial analysts, writers, et cetera. They may also pursue graduate school and doctorates, which will open opportunities in universities, museums, and more.
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History majors should expect a global education, exploring topics in their home country and elsewhere. Many courses will require a high amount of reading and writing, and the study of a second language is recommended. Though courses vary drastically among institutions, students should expect to begin with introductory-level courses in world, European, non-Western, and American history. Several institutions require a senior seminar for history majors, which will entail a capstone project (often a written paper based on the student’s own research).
8. Liberal Studies
What it offers:
The liberal studies major is one of the best majors for undecided students, due to its extreme adaptability. It provides students with the ability to move easily between careers and navigate a society with ever-changing values. Upon graduation, a student may choose to become an events director, teacher, anchorperson, marketing specialist, archivist, or journalist, to name a few of the various careers offered the liberal studies major. The flexibility and open-mindedness curated by the liberal arts education makes liberal studies majors excellent candidates for any job within their desired field.
The coursework for a liberal studies major depends on the student’s chosen specialization. It ranges from courses in psychology and mathematics to history and literature. Students will be encouraged to take courses in the humanities, sciences, social sciences, and creative arts in order to choose a specialization that best fits them. A few examples of the concentrations offered a liberal studies major are anthropology, biology, theatre, and philosophy, among several others. The versatility of the liberal studies degree allows indecisive students to declare a major without feeling confined to one topic.
What it offers:
A degree in mathematics allows students to study either pure or applied mathematics. A strong performance in advanced high school math courses and an enjoyment for the subject are recommended. Given the degree’s versatility, mathematics majors may pursue graduate school or careers in a variety of fields. The skills obtained through close collaboration with math professors assure success in industries ranging from business and finance to computer programming and software engineering.
Math majors will be required to take courses outside of their degree (in topics such as English, sociology, and art history) in order to meet their general requirements. Students specializing in pure mathematics will take high-level math classes, including algebra, calculus, geometry, and number theory. Meanwhile, applied mathematics majors’ courses may include computer science, economics, and actuarial science, among others.
10. Public Policy
What it offers:
The public policy degree offers students the tools necessary to work in policymaking and other related fields. Strong leadership skills and the ability to solve problems effectively will be taught by the student’s peers and professors. This versatile degree allows students to specialize in areas of their interest as they discover new topics, and the degree’s wide range of concentrations lead to an assortment of potential career paths in fields such as civil service, banking, academia, and management.
The typical course load for the public policy major will include classes in policymaking, political science, data analysis, and communication. Depending on students’ chosen career paths, they may specialize in homeland security, government, and more. Their courses will reflect their designated concentrations and career goals. Generally, the public policy major’s courses will provide an education in leadership and problem solving in the context of policymaking.
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