How do I figure out what I want to do?

I am a sophomore in high school. I am ranked highly within my school (top 20 out of 860). And I am a fairly well rounded student with extracurriculars.

My problem is, everyone I talk to seems to have figured out what they want to study, what job they want in the future, and where they want to go to college. I don’t know any of this and it isn’t for lack of research. I have spent countless hours scouring college websites trying to figure out what aspects of certain colleges might interest me or what majors but I still have no clue.

I have been going through so much stress lately because I feel like by this time I should know what I want but I don’t. And I feel the real ness of college and a life past high school encroaching upon me.

Can anybody give me advice on how I should go about trying to figure this out? I know that it is kind of personal so it might be hard to give advice on but please try!!

If you need any more information just ask and I would be willing to give you it.

What classes do you enjoy most in school? You’re clearly a good student, but which classes do you study for begrudgingly and which classes do you enjoy studying for? That’s a good place to start.

Here is a suggestion:

  • Get the Book of Majors (Collegeboard publishes, but your GC or local library likely has a copy).
  • Go through with 2 colors of post it notes. Mark one color for “sounds exciting!” and one for “that might work for me”.
  • Look for patterns & groupings in what you marked. Pick 3 possible areas you might want to pursue.
  • Look for colleges where those majors are offered. When you get to college, try to take intro courses in all three areas if you can during frosh year (2 courses is even better, just to offset that one might have an especially great or bad prof).
  • Spend time in the college career center. Evaluate what you can do with those majors. See if you can get some kind of experience, like an internship, summer after frosh year.
  • Look around now for things you could do to get experience. Maybe interested in politics? Volunteer for a campaign. Maybe law school? Join the debate team. Maybe engineering? Try out robotics or see if you can attend a summer engineering camp to see if you like it.

Lots of college students don’t know what they want to major in either. Don’t stress about it. You have time.

Be open to new experiences, talk to adults in your life about their careers, maybe do some shadowing.

Do you like the idea of academic and intellectual exploration? If so, then a traditional college experience may be more suited to you than to some of your peers with clearer career-oriented objectives.

Thank you all for your help so far.

My favorite classes in school are usually my history classes but thinking logically I know I don’t want to be a teacher or professor so I don’t think majoring in history would be a good plan of action. I was thinking about possibly minoring in it.

Make a list of wich majors you won’t like to study, then the selection of your major is gonna be more easy.

I swear this could’ve been me that wrote these words. I am a current junior in high school and I remember, and still do, constantly worry about what I want to do and what major that would entail.
For me, I did a lot of process of elimination, going on college major listings and focusing perhaps on a broad classification that you’re interested (ie stem, humanities, etc) and taking it from there, but I understand how difficult it is.
I really hope this helps :slight_smile:

A large portion of those kids are faking it til they make it - they have settled on something temporarily and they are loudly proclaiming what they plan to do to feel confident. Inside, they’re just as uncertain as you - they just hide it better.

Another large portion are pretty sure of what they want to do…now. And in three weeks they’ll be pretty sure they want to do something else.

Many of the people you talk to now will change their minds (sometimes several times) in the next couple years.

And that is OK. Nobody expects you to have your entire life figured out at age 15. I’m more than twice your age and I don’t have MY whole life figured out. I know what I want to this year, and next year, and probably for the next 3ish years. Lots of people make many career pivots, adjustments, changes, etc., over the course of their careers.

Relax. It’s your job to be confused and try different things on. Even once you pick your college and major, your life isn’t set in stone. Even once you pick your first job, your career isn’t set in stone.

You don’t have to be a teacher or a professor with a major in history. There are lots of other things you can do - some directly related to history, most not.

@Ganna4, congratulations on all your hard work so far. I can imagine your confusion, as I was the same way as a young person. My daughter is also a sophomore who doesn’t have her life figured out and history is one of her best subjects too.

College/university is not only about gaining expertise in a particular subject (though that’s a big part of it). The liberal arts tradition is based on the idea that college is an opportunity to immerse yourself in learning many things across disciplines and making connections both within that discipline and creatively with others. In doing so, you gain many skills, regardless off what you study. The study of history teaches you to read, write, and think analytically. it gives you an understanding of how our current culture’s strengths and problems may be embedded in the context of what came before, and the context of other culture’s histories. These are skills are transferrable to many kinds of jobs, whether they seem directly related to history or not.

Lots of college websites list internships and post-college jobs that recent graduates have been doing. Looking at these may reassure you and give you some idea of the variety of things people do with their degrees, whether you end up studying history or something else. Start googling lots of college/university websites to get an idea of coursework offered and internships and jobs. For example:

If you really don’t know what you want to study, often liberal arts colleges or smaller universities can offer more individualized attention to figure things out, and allow you to study across disciplines. You can get this from big universities as well, but you have to be much more proactive in seeking out guidance early on. Make sure you go regularly to office hours of your professors, and don’t be shy to offer to do research in any areas that intrigue you…taking initiative like this can result in all kinds of opportunities that may lead you get internships and (later) a first job you can be excited about.