How To Find Out If Your Major Is Right For You And What To Do About It


So your college or university major isn’t what you thought it’d be. Maybe, the career opportunities you thought you’d have haven’t panned out. Or perhaps you’ve discovered a new interest.

Fall classes may be over, but there’s still time to meet with an academic advisor and change your winter schedule to pursue a new major or specialization.

According to the University of Calgary, the majority of university students switch their majors at least once. Reasons why vary from not being hired to discovering new interests to just plain uncertainty.

What should you do if you weren’t recruited this fall?

Many large companies have already filled their entry level or leadership program positions by now. Don’t panic if you haven’t been hired. Take rejection as an opportunity to assess your interests, goals and options.

When an accounting firm didn’t recruit Nick Guadagnolo last year, the then aspiring auditor and fourth-year accounting student at the Schulich School of Business enrolled in organizational behaviour and marketing classes in his final semester instead.

“An accounting specialization without a CA designation was not what I wanted,” Nick says. “I excelled at, and quite frankly derived so much more pleasure from, the not-so-numerical aspects of the BBA degree.”

He studied things like sports marketing, crisis management and operating a family business. He wrote the LSAT in June, applied to law school this fall, travelled frequently and continues to work part-time in HR. For Nick, there is credence to a plan of action that doesn’t involve immediately jumping into the fray. It sounds scary now, but maybe the same applies to you too.

What should you do if you’re interested in something else?

It’s easy to follow your friends, study what your parents tell you to or pursue a career based on how much it pays. But you have to deal with your career choices, Toronto-based Community Manager Stephanie Fusco says.

Stephanie Fusco

Stephanie studied politics at Queen’s University and hoped to go to law school since she was in high school. But in a fourth-year political communications seminar, she realized that she loved strategy, speech writing and communications more. She graduated from Queen’s and later pursued her passion and earned a post-graduate certificate in public relations from Humber College.

“I knew I made the right choice when I found myself putting more effort into my Humber application than I was putting into worrying about whether I’d get into law school,” she says. “I’m sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and my career is on a path I’m very happy with.”

Maybe there’s an aspect of your major you love. It may take some reflection or experimentation to figure it out, but try to pursue a degree and a career in the aspect that interests you the most, Stephanie adds.

What should you do if you’re not sure?

If you’re unsure about your interests or aspirations, choose an undecided major. According to the University of California, students who enter college with an undeclared major change their focus fewer times than students who declare their major. So when you do make a decision, you’ll make it count.

Both Nick and Stephanie regret stacking their schedules with accounting and politics classes, respectively. Instead, they wished they had studied a variety of subjects to get a wider perspective and discover their other interests earlier.

If you’re undecided and interested in changing the world, check out this list of the top 10 most meaningful majors according data complied by research firm PayScale.

What’s next?

So after reading this, I bet you’re inspired to reevaluate the major you’ve chosen. Not so fast – you’ll want to think this through. In addition to making an appointment to speak to an academic advisor, you can:

Photo credit: Gates Foundation