What to Study

There is a daunting, terrifying point in college applications where they ask the question: What do you intend to major in? Suddenly, you draw a blank. How do you even begin to answer this question?

Fear not, because there is a lot of exploration and leeway available! Remember, on applications, most colleges do not hold you to your answer. It’s really for you to think about and get a sense of what you’re looking for in college.

This probably doesn’t apply to those of you who are applying to art schools or specific programs. But for the rest of us with commitment issues, here are some ways you can do some self-reflection and figure out what you want to study. 

One way is to ask yourself, who do you want to be after college? For example, if you want to be a doctor, you’ll want to study something in biology, chemistry, psychology, etc. If you’re interested in architecture, you might go into engineering, urban studies, or design. If you want to be a journalist, you might consider English, politics, media studies, or journalism itself. 

Knowing where you want to land can help you figure out what direction to jump. If you have no idea, that’s okay too—keep on reading. 

Now, take a look at the rest of your application. What do most of your extracurriculars, electives, and interests lean toward? Remember, you aren’t beholden to sticking with what you write in your application, but it can help to present you as a cohesive and prepared student.

For example, if you’ve volunteered in local elections and ran for student government, it would make a lot of sense to admissions officers that you’re interested in studying politics. And maybe consider it for yourself?

But we’ll take it a step further. Let’s say you don’t have a singular angle to your activities; you’ve been a jack of all trades. The next question to ask yourself is, which high school classes do you like and do well in? Most students tend to lean toward STEM or humanities. From there you can begin to narrow it down: What subjects did you like the best? Where did you get good grades? Where do you have teachers that like you?

Keep in mind, there are majors and departments in college that most high schools don’t provide classes in, such as economics or computer science. So don’t panic if nothing comes to mind!

At this point, let’s say you’ve considered everything and you’ve still got no clue. Truth be told, you aren’t alone. A lot of students spend their freshman and sophomore year of college “undeclared” and that’s okay. 

You’re expected to try new things and discover your interests. Many colleges have a core curriculum or GE requirements, intended to make you explore subjects, even if you knew exactly what you wanted to study from the beginning. You’re going to change, grow, and evolve. It’s okay to admit that you’re still learning. After all, isn’t that what college is for?

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