Janie - Molecular Biology — 20 December 2013
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How Do I Pick a Major? A Salute to the Undecided

“What do you want to major in?” This is a question you’ve heard many times. If you’re a high school senior, you probably have a scripted response for that question to everyone who asks. For many incoming freshmen, however, that question is not easily answered. If you haven’t spent time at Melbourne beaches yet, you may not know what it feels like to be completely pummeled by an unforeseen wave. That is what it feels like to face the tough decision.

College graduation is quickly creeping up on me, and I’m lost in applying for grad school and looking for jobs. I’m stuck deciding where I want to apply and potentially move to, what job I actually want to do forever, how much education I want and the ever-present question of whether or not my current relationship will last through it all. I knew in high school I wanted to be a geneticist. It never really occurred to me that I’d have to actually pick something more specific. There are so many options! Forensics? Research at a company? Research at a school? Genetic counseling? Teaching? How am I supposed to choose?

So, to those who are still undecided, I understand.

My best advice is to try everything. You can do this by:

1) Job shadowing. Spending one day trying out a job could save you from getting a degree in something you end up not liking. Find someone with your potential job – either through friends or through a phone book – and ask to observe them for a day.

2) Asking current students and professionals what it is like and if they would do it again.

3) Getting involved now. Starting my freshman year, I began three semesters of research experience. Because I started early, I was able to try different kinds of research before I had to pick one for grad school. If you are a high school student, try to get involved on a project, internship, or volunteer work in your field of interest. It’ll help when it comes time to make the life-changing decisions. Even if you know what major you’re interested in, trying things out now can help you pick your classes.

Each time you try something, you learn a little more about yourself. At FIT we have a “General Studies” classification for our undecided freshmen. I encourage you to instead pick something a little narrower like general science, general engineering, or humanities.

If you can’t decide, pick whatever sounds best to you. And remember that you’re never stuck. Getting your bachelor’s degree in something doesn’t mean you have to do that forever. We’re in this together. Now it’s time for me to get back to these graduate school applications.
Good luck, undecideds.

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