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Junior Toolkit

Section 2: Choosing a Major

“ You don’t have to know what you want to major in, or even what you want to do after college. But you should know what you enjoy learning about. ” 

- Dr. Robert Massa, Lafayette College

High school junior researching her major

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What should I major in?

Sometimes you know exactly what you want to study in college; sometimes it’s less clear. You have interests, but you’re not sure how to apply them in a college setting.

If you do know what you want to do, things are fairly straightforward. Look at your list of colleges, keep track of their admissions requirements, and schedule your classes accordingly. For example, if you know you’re destined to become a doctor, you’ll need to take some advanced science classes during the next few years.

If you don’t know what you want to do yet, you’re not alone. A majority of students either enter college without declaring a major, or change their major in the first year anyway. And this is okay; not all majors are directly tied to careers. In fact, most careers allow for several majors as prerequisites. For example, you don’t have to major in business to actually be successful in business. Plenty of history majors land internships on Wall Street during college, pursue MBA degrees in graduate school, and ultimately become executives in corporate firms or start their own businesses.

If you do declare a major on your college application, make sure there is evidence to support your interest in this major, whether through classes you’ve taken or extracurricular activities you’ve pursued.

Some of the questions answered in this section's video:

What if I have no idea what I want to study in college?

How can I figure out what I might want to major in?

I know what I want to major in. How should I approach this year?


Video: Choosing A Major (3:04)

Things to Remember:

  • It’s okay to not know what you want to major in, but you still need to explore your interests. Even if those interests don’t apply to a particular major, colleges will want to know what they are and how you will continue to explore them on their campus. They want to know what sort of student you’ll be when you’re there, and one way for you to show them this is to provide evidence of what you’ve enjoyed and explored in high school.
  • A final note: it’s also okay to choose a major now and change your mind later. For most colleges, you will not be forced to choose a major until the latter half of your sophomore year, so you’ll have plenty of time to try a few options on for size.


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Other Sections in the Junior Toolkit: