What do you want to study?


What do you want to studyDo you dream of becoming a doctor or lawyer or engineer? Have your parents influenced what you should study at university as a means to achieving a certain goal that they have for you?

More than likely in your country that typically means in order to achieve that dream/goal, when you finish secondary school and go to university, there is a very clear route you will take in terms of the academic subject you will study. In most cases, university study for typically three years is made up predominantly of courses in that subject, right?

Well in the U.S., the system functions very differently. For most bachelor’s degrees (see last week’s blog for an important lesson on definitions) in the United States, a student might take 40-46 different classes in a 4-year degree. Of those 40, in some academic majors, only 25% of courses taken might actually be in that student’s desired subject of study. The other 75% (or so) of your classes will generally fall into 2 categories: core requirements/general education requirements and electives.

It is through these electives and general education courses (also called liberal arts & sciences) that you will have a great degree of flexibility in choosing courses that both interest you, educate you about the world around you, and will develop skills to help you thrive in whatever academic major you choose. The good news is, you can even change your major in the first year or two, and still be able to graduate within the traditional four year cycle.

Several articles explain the value of a liberal arts education that you may wish to check out. A couple we recommend are from Forbes and the Huffington Post:

One thing is for certain at U.S. colleges: changing your academic major is not uncommon. In fact, at the University of LaVerne’s Career Services they indicate that 50-70% of students change their major at least once. This article also gives some good advice about how to choose a major and the implications on possible careers.

Keep your options open and know that you have some time as a first year undergraduate student to explore different options that make sense for you. In the end, if you can find a major that you enjoy and, hopefully, can feel passionate about, you are heading in the right direction.

Get personal college and career advice at CollegeWeekLive.