If you have difficulty narrowing down your choices, or none of the majors stand out...
Think about the advice here and see your four-year advisor to discuss how to decide.
"I know what I want, but I don't know which majors do it."
Start with the "Show Me My Major!" tool and see which majors focus on issues that interest you.
If none of the majors captures what you would like to do, talk with your four-year advisor for more information on available majors or how to investigate a Special Major.
"I have so many interests that I can't decide."
With so many possible choices, how do you decide? First, adopt a healthy mindset:
- There may be many "right" choices for you. The important thing is to choose something to study in-depth that combines your strengths and skills.
- Your major is only part of your overall college education. You have room in your schedule to study other areas of interest.
- Education continues long after graduation, whether you continue with formal education or self-study. Saying "yes" to one major doesn't mean saying "no" to another. It means "not now."
- Committing to one major brings tremendous benefits that cannot be enjoyed by dabbling in several areas. When you devote yourself to one area...
- You cultivate the ability to think deeply about the context, methods, and intricacies of a subject in fundamentally different ways than you can ever do by studying several areas superficially. These "deep thinking" skills are transferable to other areas as you not only appreciate the time and attention it takes to truly understand issues and problems, but also use approaches to studying one issue in depth and apply it to another.
- You find other issues and topics that you may never have otherwise discovered.
With this mindset, you should research likely candidates for a major and talk about them with a four-year advisor. For each major, consider:
- Basic requirements
- Research opportunities
- Study abroad options
- Extra-curricular activities in the major: Check your department's website
- Possible careers and post-graduate study programs
"I don't want to major in courses I’ve taken, but I don't have time to take more courses before I have to decide."
If you have taken introductory courses that you thought you would like, but you didn't enjoy or do particularly well in, consider taking a 300-level course in that area. It sounds counterintuitive, but introductory courses are not necessarily the best indication of what a major is like, and 300-level courses can provide better insight into the major; however, talk with your four-year advisor before pursuing a 300-level course. It may be time to move on to another field.
Outside of courses, you have several sources of information to help you see what various majors offer. Consider the following:
- Conversations with faculty and upper-class students in the field
- Public lectures presented by the department or program
- Major and course descriptions at Majors at a Glance, department and program web sites, and course listings
- "Show Me My Major!" on-line tool to identify majors related to your interests
- Professional self-assessment tools (Strong Interest Inventory and Myers Briggs) to identify possible majors and occupations according to your interests. A Career Center advisor will review the results with you. Contact the Career Center.
Also keep in mind that you can continue to test your major selection through Washington University Summer School and courses in your junior year.
"I don't know which major will get me a job," or "I know what I want to study, but it doesn't seem practical. How will I get a job with it?"
If you ask, "Which major will get me a job?" or "How will I get a job with that major?", see "Your Major and Career" and work with the Career Center. It's what you do with the major (both in your course work and the practical experience of an internship, research, service, and/or leadership) that leads to a successful first career. When students combine their A&S major with opportunities like internships, research, and/or the Praxis Program, they discover what they want to do, create networks that open doors, and learn to put their liberal arts skills into action in the lab, library, or marketplace.
First things first: talk to a Career Center advisor to find out more about translating any A&S major into a career.
"I don’t know what I want to study. Nothing looks any better than anything else."
If you're not sure what to study, visit the Career Center and take advantage of professional self-assessment tools (Strong Interest Inventory and Myers Briggs) to identify your interests, along with possible majors and occupations related to those interests. A Career Center advisor will review the results with you.
Keep in mind that some students find their passion in applying their knowledge to real-life situations outside of the classroom. These students should consider what to study in terms of what will open possibilities for them to get involved in a career, community service, research, or field work that gives them satisfaction.
Finally, talk with your four-year advisor, who can help you talk through your interests and identify resources on campus that might help you find a major that’s a good fit for you.