Written By: Katie, UNCA Academic Success Center Academic Advisor
Choosing a course of study can feel like a daunting task. It will dictate which classes you take, what internships and/or jobs you will be best suited for, your potential earning power, and what your day to day life could look like after you graduate…. Right? Wrong. It can only influence those pieces of your life. While choosing a major is an important decision and should be done with consideration, it is not a life sentence. It will not put you on an irrevocable path. I, for example, have a BA in Communication Studies, went on to be a field instructor for Outward Bound leading wilderness expeditions for nine years, worked briefly as a professional chef, and am now working as an Academic Advisor here at UNC Asheville. My point being, the major you choose does not necessarily mean choosing a career.
All of that being true, choosing a major is still a very important decision as it will impact many parts of your life. If this feels big and you are struggling with choosing a major, fear not! There are many steps you can take to help yourself and ease the decision. First, consider yourself. Honestly examine your past experiences and areas of interest. Do you think you want to be a veterinarian, but hate science classes and have never volunteered at an animal shelter or rehabilitation center? If this sounds familiar, perhaps you only like the idea of being a vet. However, maybe you excelled in your writing and composition classes, and have worked as a summer camp counselor since you were 16… you might consider a degree in English with a teacher licensure. It is also important to assess your academic strengths and weaknesses. Your major will dictate many the courses you take while in college. So if you truly hate math, picking a major that requires lots of math classes will most likely have a negative effect on your college experience, motivation, and grades. Remember to think not only about the end goal, but what will be required of you to get there. While you may not love every class you take, you should feel interested in and challenged by most of the classes in your major. Also, reflect on your personal preferences – are you an introvert or do you love public speaking? What are your values? Becoming a doctor takes many years of schooling- is this something you are willing to do? Do you have the grit for it? Secondly, study the logistics. Remember to pay attention to your credit hours, timeline, and financials. Some degrees require more credit hours than others. This could affect how long you have left in school, scholarships or financial aid, fees associated with hours limits, etc.
With all of these things to take into account, here is my best piece of advice: talk with a professional! The advisors in the Academic Success Center’s Career Center and Advising offices are free services for you right here on campus. The advisors in these offices can (and are happy to) help you with this choice. We can help you assess your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. We can talk with you about the requirements for majors you are looking at and help you figure out how they will affect your time at UNCA. The Career Center is a great resource for students – don’t let the name trick you, it is not just about jobs. They can provide you with some self-assessment tools to help determine what you might be interested in. They can introduce you to people working in areas you are considering. They can help you find internships, assistantships, or jobs. Spending time working/interning/volunteering in your interest area can be a great help if you are unsure if it is your passion. Or, if you are more of a DIY type, they can direct you to some great online resources where you can research different majors and their associated job options, earning potential, popularity, etc. The advisors in the Advising office can help with the logistics once you are ready to declare a major. They can talk you through requirements and timelines in any degree. They can help you bounce around ideas if you want to double major, do an internship for credit, etc. They can also help you determine if your financial aid or scholarships will be affected.
I will leave you with this- thirty minutes of Post-Malone videos on Instagram might be time well spent, but also consider that same thirty minutes spent chatting with an advisor could change your entire college experience for the better. The choice is yours. Either way, you know where to find us.