Academics, Career Advice
As an incoming freshman, you may be asked,“How did you choose your major?” If you have a laundry-list of rehearsed reasons, great! If the answer to this question is a blank look and an “um…”, that’s cool too! Both of these are the “right” answer. Yes, it’s really, truly okay (and some may even argue better) to be unsure about your path when you begin college. It’s okay to even wait until you have a semester or two behind you to choose. There are over 60 majors at USA, and each of these majors could lead to a dozen or more distinctly different careers. Sometimes, students are so fixated on a particular career that they don’t consider how well the major coordinates with their skills and abilities.
At USA, if you wait to declare a specific major, you are considered an exploratory student, (one who is discovering majors instead of settled on one), a.k.a. Arts and Sciences General Studies. If you truly are unsure of your path, it’s a great idea to stay exploratory until you’ve had enough experience in the classroom to know where you might want to be. As long as you’re taking the correct prerequisites (higher-level sciences and maths for the pre-health and natural science majors), there is absolutely no harm in avoiding the major declaration until you’ve earned at least 30 credit hours. It’s better to make an informed decision after a period of exploration than a quick decision that might take years to realize isn’t for you.
GENERAL EDUCATION COURSES
When you begin your career at USA, you will take what are called General Education courses. One of the key benefits of taking two years of general education requirements is that you get a taste of many different academic disciplines. These courses are the foundation of your college education. You’ll be required to take courses in writing, literature, history, fine arts, social sciences, natural sciences, and math. Before you groan internally, remember that employers want to hire well-rounded college graduates — people who are knowledgeable not only about their own field, but also the world around them. For an exploratory major, education courses give you an opportunity to explore your own strengths and interests and can open your mind to a field that you had never previously considered.
FINISH IN FOUR
You’re much less likely to finish in four if you discover you need to entirely change your major halfway through and take more prerequisites for your new path. It is said that almost 80% of students end up changing their major — if you start out exploring your options, you can entirely avoid the process of switching (and the heartache if some courses from your previous major don’t fit within your new track). Major selection shouldn’t be a rush job. It takes time to weigh strengths and interests and select a path. As you progress in your courses the first year, you’ll only learn more about yourself, and informed decisions are the best decisions.
So there you have it. If you’re stressing about choosing a major, just don’t! Wait until you get to USA and explore all that we have to offer before deciding on a path.