Choosing a College Major by James Portwood

I remember the anxiety mixed with excitement that I felt when I entered high school my freshmen year. I remember the first day of tryouts for the junior varsity basketball team, my first meal on the quad, and more importantly my first visit to the dean’s office. Such colorful moments in my memory archive. It was as if I closed my eyes, just for a second, to relax my mind as it absorbed these new adolescent experiences. When they opened, I was smacked in the face by life; junior year had arrived.

Seeming instantly, friends and family demanded to know my thoughts on the whereabouts of my continuing education. After multiple meetings with my parents and college advisors, I eventually narrowed my choices down to 6 schools. The only factor left to decide was which program within the colleges and universities to apply to (i.e. engineering, business, or arts & sciences). I could only apply to one per school. The combined pressure of deadlines, school obligations, and sports, yielded in hasty decision making. I ended up applying to the arts & sciences programs since that was the most general of the three. At the time I could not decide whether or not I had a strong enough interest in the fields of business or engineering, so I made the decision that I felt was safest.

Two and a half years later, I find the decision that I felt was safest was also wrong. Two quarters into my freshman year of college, I realized that I wanted to study business…whoops. The in-school transfer deadline had already passed, so I declared the most educationally similar major to business that was offered at my school, Economics. The next year, I ended up applying to the business school and was accepted and approved to double major in Economics and Finance.

Although I eventually found my niche, the process would have been a lot easier and more efficient if I had been presented with these options earlier in my life. Often teenagers are given the advice to not worry about what future careers to pursue or educational paths to consider because they don’t have to make that decision yet. A common misconception is that the decision of what school to apply to is more worthy a consideration to a high school student than what area of study they may be interested in. You don’t have to know what major you want as a junior in high school, but at least having some idea couldn’t hurt. In my case, knowing which school to apply to should’ve been contingent on what I wanted to study. Unfortunately I did not know what I wanted to study because I wasn’t aware of my options early enough. Luckily for me, I was still able to switch into the program of my preference even though I would have had a higher chance of acceptance had I initialed applied to the business school out of high school.

If I had contemplated potential areas of study prior to my college applications, I could’ve applied to a wider range of schools that would have better suited my specific educational desires.


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