Choosing a Major
Choosing a major is both a milestone and a process. It can be incredibly exciting, and equally scary at the same time.
Whether you have an academic direction in mind or you aren't sure what you want, here are some things to help you decide on a major. A majority of students change their intended major at least once.
Everyone goes through the process of choosing a major through their own way and in their own time. However, there are things that can help anyone who is considering their academic path.
First, remember that you are not choosing a lifetime career path, but an undergraduate academic program. Whether you are decided, undecided or somewhere in between, Hope offers a variety of resources to help you better understand yourself, clarify your goals and declare a major that is a great fit for you.
Second, utilizing resources from the Boerigter Center can help you develop some action steps toward making the choice that's best for you.
Finally, and especially, talk through the decision with your academic advisor. Your advisor is there to help and can serve as an expert in helping you think through your academic program options.
IDS:295 The Second Seminar, Designing a Life that Matters
To get started, browse through the sections below.
- Know Who You Are
Your foundation in choosing a major is to explore and consider your strengths, preferences, interests and goals. You might, for example, talk with your advisor or someone in Boerigter about:
- What types of things excite you
- When you have you enjoyed seeing your strengths and skills at work
- How you have grown in the past couple years
- Whether you bring any specific life goals with you to college
- What academic and intellectual topics you find most interesting
- What values are most important to you
TAKE AN ASSESSMENT
Boerigter Center for Calling and Career staff are available to help you further your self-awareness. They offer personality and interest assessments, along with many other tools to help you in your path of deciding on a major.
- Know Your Academic Options
Aligning your strengths, preferences, interests and goals with your academic major will increase the likelihood that you will be satisfied by your field of study. View Hope’s academic programs to know your options, and explore careers through the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career.
Use YOUR COURSE SELECTIONS to Explore
Take classes from a variety of subjects to help focus your interests. Take advantage of the variety in Hope’s curriculum and strategically select general education courses that align with potential interests you want to explore. To get started, you could set up a meeting with a professor in an academic area you are interested in to learn more about the program.
EXPLORE THROUGH EXPERIENCE
Experiences beyond a traditional classroom are key to testing your interests and further developing your strengths. Consider volunteering, student clubs and leadership, informational interviews, internships and international study. Come into the Boerigter Center to reflect on the things you're experiencing in and out of the classroom to help choose your major.
- Know Your Professional Options
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
Explore “What Can I Do With A Major In...?” on the Boerigter Center website. The interests and skills you cultivate in your Hope courses can be applied in many different professions.
You can also learn about the work environment, required skills and preparation, and the future outlook for thousands of different professions at the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career offers additional job prep resources such as resume review, networking and interviewing training, and graduate school and job search resources.
- Explore Your Vocation
The deepest vocational question is not ‘What ought I to do with my life?’ It is the more elemental and demanding ‘Who am I? What is my nature?’ —Parker Palmer
MORE THAN A CAREER
“Vocation” or “calling” is more than discovering a career or academic program that suits you. Your jobs may change throughout your life, but your vocation is who you are and your unique combination of strengths and interests. This is part of all the roles you participate in, whether in your academics, family, profession, volunteering or other places. Frederick Buechner, a well-known writer, describes vocation as, “The place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
In addition to discerning your academic major, we want you to embrace a larger sense of life purpose. Hope is ready to support you in learning your strengths, interests and values. Ultimately, we want to help you discover ways to use them to make a difference in your community, profession and the world.
You are invited to make an appointment with Dr. Ryan White, Director of Academic Advising, to further explore your sense of vocation. We may have conversations about self-awareness and life view, as well as do exploratory personality and strengths assessments. If you are in the midst of changing a major, you may find these foundational ideas helpful in transitioning to a new path.
- Don't Be Afraid to Declare
If you're going through these steps, don't be afraid to declare your major. But there is no reason to feel rushed, either. Take time to consider and use the above resources to help you make your decision. Some majors such as special education, music, engineering and some health sciences recommend certain classes in the first semester, but most majors do not have any first semester requirements. Most programs can still be completed in four years if you declare your sophomore (and in some cases, junior) year.
Most students at Hope have declared their major program by the end of their sophomore year.
However, there is also no need to delay. If you are at least 50% sure of a major, go ahead and declare it. It is often impossible to be 100% certain until you get involved in the major, try it out and build relationships with the faculty and other students. If you later discover that it is not the major for you, you can simply undeclare that major and declare a different one.
Visit the Registrar's Office website for details on the process of completing a major declaration.