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Majorly struggling to decide

SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 182 replies9 threads Junior Member
Hi guys,

Sorry in advance for the long post.

I'm a freshman & I can't choose a major. My school wants me to declare this semester, and I'm almost done with gen eds (AP credit) so I don't have any more room to take random classes. I've gone to my advisor and the career center, but it's not helping & I'm really stressed (it keeps me up at night, honestly).

I've ruled out business, engineering, and pre-med, and I'm doing a foreign language minor. If you looked at my class schedule, you'd probably think I'm a bio major.

Most people tell me to do bio and/or chem, I guess because those are trendy majors these days & I've taken classes in both. However, I'm not sure if I could commit to a PhD, and there's not very good job prospects with a BS/MS. At the same time, I've liked my STEM courses and I have some lab experience (which I do enjoy, but I'm just not sure if I could do it forever).

I really like working with kids, so I've considered education. However, my parents wouldn't approve (they think I'm "too smart to be a teacher" and wouldn't make enough money). Again, it's just hard to picture myself doing it forever....but I feel that way about everything, so maybe that's just because I'm too young?

The last one I'm thinking about is English. I like it, but again, I'm worried I won't be able to find a job. However, I've always been really good at English, probably moreso than STEM -- I've always gotten As in both, but I feel like other STEM students are just so much better than me, whereas in English I'm usually one of the best students in the class. However, I've only taken one English class in college, so it feels too hasty.

My current "plan" is to double major in bio and chem, but when I look at my four-year plan, it makes me sad because I wouldn't have room to do anything besides STEM forever, and I really like the humanities. At the same time, I feel like I "have" to do STEM, although I'm not sure if that's because I like it / everyone wants me to / sunk cost fallacy / peer pressure / something else. Now I'm considering a bio/English double major, but that seems kinda stupid.

In short: I'm very confused, very indecisive, and very stressed. Please help.

Thanks so much for your advice!

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Replies to: Majorly struggling to decide

  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 619 replies1 threads Member
    Usually English is a short major especially if you have gen eds finished already, double majors possible.
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  • cypresspatcypresspat 544 replies11 threads Member
    What do you like to study? I hire many people out of college. There are certain majors which catch my eye, but honestly I am more interested in what they have done or specific skills they have obtained. I don’t expect anyone to be great at all things. But a depth in one area is key for me. It shows me that they can push themselves past just superficial understanding of things.

    I like people who can write really well. Who have learned a computer skill (a specific programming language, or important software). Who have shown initiative in creating new things. Who are persistent in getting problems solved.

    No one has ever been deep in more than one or two areas. I have hired English majors. History majors. CS majors. Biology majors. Never for their major but more for those attributes described above.

    So...I would recommend you chose an area which really interests you, but within That area seek ways to get really, really good at something which is demonstrable. If English major, be a writer for the school newspaper. If Bio, get involved with a research project and participate in the day-to-day tasks that will nurture practical skills; become indispensable for that project.

    Most employers, if being honest, will say that they have to train young people a great deal. Some things are not teachable, though. Show, in college, that there are some things you do not need to be taught: independence, tenacity, cooperative spirit, good judgment. Being able to get really good at something shows that you are able to get really good at other things, too. This is easier if you are truly interested in your major.

    There are of course majors with a direct link to a career (teaching, nursing, etc.). But I know many, many people who had such a major yet never worked in that occupation. Don’t fret about major as much as showing while in school that you will not be a major project for an employer.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 5470 replies25 threads Senior Member
    ^^great advice. @cypresspat. May I ask what kind of company you hire for? The types of people you have hired seem to be vastly diverse.
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  • SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 182 replies9 threads Junior Member
    @cypresspat You make some good points, and I really appreciate it (it makes me feel much better!) but I'd also argue that most students WANT to work in their major after graduation; I'm willing to do whatever pays the bills, but I want a major I can continue as a career.

    I'm still not 100% sure what I like to study, which I think is why I'm leaning towards double-majoring....it's really just another way not to commit :/ So I'm not sure if doing two wildly different majors would be a good idea or not (and conversely, whether double majoring in bio & chem would give me an advantage over just bio).

    I think I could become pretty involved with bio/chem because I'm already working in a lab (well, technically two) and the professors let the junior/senior undergrads run a lot of their own projects. I just feel like I'm faking it because I'm not "really" a STEM major, but I guess no one could tell that on paper.

    With the classes I've already taken, English, bio, and chem would all be about the same length. However, if I'm going to do chem, I have to take a bunch of chem-exclusive classes second semester of sophomore year, so I'd have to know by then (which is part of what's stressing me out, tbh).

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  • juilletjuillet 12724 replies162 threads Super Moderator
    The statement "too smart to be a teacher" really irritates me. Do children not deserve smart teachers? Where would we all be if we didn't have smart teachers to educate us? Also, what is "enough" money? Teachers can live solid middle-class lives in most places.

    OP, if you like English and teaching, you could major in English education and become a teacher. There are lots of other kinds of jobs you could do with an English degree - anything that has to do with writing and communicating well, which is a lot of majors.

    You certainly don't have to be STEM. I am so over this era of pushing STEM majors. Science majors aren't for everyone, and in order for us to have a diversified economy we need people who can play many roles. Half of all STEM majors don't even end up working in STEM jobs.

    You seem like a person with major interests. So why consider double majoring? Just pick one major and leave yourself the room to take classes in other fields. It's totally fine to have just one major and a bunch of electives in different areas - you learn so much, and you never know when you might use that material in the future. (I use a lot from classes I took outside of my major.)
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  • MistySteel27MistySteel27 55 replies0 threads Junior Member
    If you want to work with kids on a daily basis and find that rewarding then why don’t you research careers like occupational therapy, speech therapy or physical therapy. For OT you can get your under grad degree in anything so long as you take the required science courses but most have bachelors in psychology, health science or biology. Many OT/ST work in schools or PT/OT/ST work outpatient/inpatient rehab, hospitals or skilled nursing homes for adults or kids. ST/PT have strict requirements for under grad courses. Good luck and I think you’re going to be great at whatever you decide!
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2819 replies65 threads Senior Member
    If you are interested in teaching, go for that, perhaps with an English or bio double major or minor. I can't imagine any parent being embarrased their kid wants to become a teacher (and science teachers are especially valued), but regardless, you are an adult and have to make your own path. DD's teachers all make six figures (or are very close to that). Granted, that is with years of experience in a school district where it is extremely hard to get one's foot in the door, but it goes to show it is possible to make a good living. It is probably very competitive with what non-masters, non-doctorate bio majors can make too.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9918 replies538 threads Senior Member
    @juillet , hear hear!

    OP, tell your parents that good teachers are critical to future success of not only individuals, but to everyone. Good schools make good communities. This country is in desperate need of teachers. If you want to teach, go for it.
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  • PublisherPublisher 9604 replies121 threads Senior Member
    Why not combine your interest in chemistry, biology, and English with your dislike of the thought of a lifelong career working in a lab in order to become a patent agent ?
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  • SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 182 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Sorry for not responding quicker -- it's been a long couple weeks (thanks midterms).

    @juillet, @Groundwork2022 and @Lindagaf , I agree with you completely, and I know I shouldn't let my friends'/parents' opinions influence me, but it's easier said than done. I don't even think it's intentional on their part, it's just the little comments like that. I'm not 100% sure if I want to go into education or not, either, so it would still leave me with a lot of uncertainty....I could see myself teaching bio or English, but I'd also really like teaching elementary/preschool education too.

    One of my professors said he knows students who majored in bio, English, history, etc. and ended up getting master's degrees to go into education, so that's definitely an option I'm considering -- or double-majoring if that's possible, but I don't really understand how the education curriculum works tbh.

    @MistySteel27 It's funny you mention that; I actually considered speech pathology briefly for those exact reasons, but I'm taking a class on linguistics (albeit in a foreign language) & I've concluded that I just don't understand phonetics and I have a hard time distinguishing between sounds. Oops.

    Ironically, my family's started telling me that biology is useless and I shouldn't major in that either, so now I'm just confused and honestly, frustrated.

    I have to meet with my advisor next month, and I think I've decided that I'll probably just declare a bio/chem major and then spend the summer thinking it over...I'm sure whatever I choose will be wrong, so I might as well get it over with :/

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