The Perfect Major: 6 Strategies for Making the Right Choice
6 Strategies for Making the Right Choice
Finding the perfect major isn’t always easy. We asked Carthage students how they found the right major for them. Here is their advice:
1. Follow your childhood dreams
Childhood dreams often become grown-up careers. These students knew exactly what their majors would be when they were children.
“I chose my major based on a Carthage visit that stuck out to me. The slideshows playing before the presentation began included photos of the NASA Microgravity Team, and it reminded me of the many times I visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. I remember how excited it made me about space and eager to learn more, so that’s how I chose to come to Carthage and major in physics and astronomy.” — Cassandra Bossong ’21; physics and astronomy double-major with a concentration in astrophysics
“I chose my major because I always loved being outside and knew I wanted to work as a biologist protecting our natural world. Environmental science seemed like the perfect fit, especially after taking my first environmental science class during the first semester of my freshman year.” — Annemarie Seth ’22; environmental science major
“I always knew I wanted to do something with environmental science — I’m an Eagle Scout and love the outdoors. However, during my sophomore year, my advisor Professor Kurt Piepenburg convinced me to also major in geographic information science.” — Matthew Stocking ’21; environmental science and geographic information science double-major, geoscience minor
2. Explore your personal interests
One way to choose a major is to find what activities, subjects, and fields are most interesting to you. These students decided on their majors by exploring their personal interests.
“I took a physics class in high school and found it interesting — I wanted to learn more. I chose to also go into secondary education after talking with my advisor and deciding that teaching would be a more fulfilling career for me than engineering.” — Eric Schmitt ’20; physics major, secondary education minor
“I was always interested in science and I always excelled in science classes in school. I knew from middle school that I wanted to do something in the area of biological sciences. When I was a sophomore in high school, I needed my first knee surgery from playing softball and I was so interested in seeing the X-rays and MRIs and hearing all that my doctor and [physician’s assistant] had to say about the profession. I knew from that experience that I wanted to be a pediatric orthopedic PA.” — Alexandra Millett ’20; biology and pre-health major, psychology minor
“I enjoyed learning about the techniques and materials used in graphic design, and how a student was able to make their work unique. No two artworks are the same because of the distinctiveness each student puts into their work.” — Jillian Schirmacher ’21; graphic design major
3. Take classes that seem interesting
For those who feel a little stuck, take classes that seem interesting to you. Consider what subjects you find most fascinating, or subjects you’ve never taken a class on before. You might just find a new passion.
“I took a class [in computer science] my sophomore year of high school and was fascinated with the complexity of programming. It is extremely rewarding to help create a new program or piece of code that is challenging and complex. Coding is like learning another language. When you are given a task, there are so many different ways to approach it.” — Kailee Ottman ’22; computer science major, Chinese language minor
“I always knew I wanted to do something in business. I landed on marketing after exploring a few classes and joining some business-oriented organizations, including Velocity Consulting and the business fraternity Pi Sigma Epsilon.” — Lyndsey Bielinski ’20; marketing major, Spanish and public relations minors
“I entered Carthage as a criminal justice major. After taking American Government with Professor Mast my freshman year, I realized I also had a passion for political science. I took another political science class in the spring, and by fall I added it as another major.” — Jacyln Wilks ’20, criminal justice and political science major
4. Consider the job market
When choosing their majors, these students researched the job market. They were able to find majors that interested them while still ensuring they could start their careers and make a living after graduation.
“I always thought I would go into engineering sciences since that’s where everyone says the money is. However, I took Professor Rick Matthew’s Sociology 1000 course and realized I was really good at understanding people and how pieces of society fit together in their various systems. With the huge push for STEM fields in recent years, there is now a bigger need for people in social services.” — Magdalena Rocha ’19; sociology and criminal justice majors, Spanish minor
5. Don’t be afraid to switch your major
If you’ve chosen a major that no longer feels right, consider changing your major to something more interesting to you. Find your strengths, explore your interests, and choose a major you’re passionate about.
“I researched the field and talked to people that I knew in the program at Carthage. I came to Carthage as a business major, but soon realized I wanted a job where I could move around every day and be able to help people improve their lives.” — Justin Corrigan ’21; exercise and sport science major, health secondary education minor
“I was originally a physics major but switched after one semester. Then I was a chemistry major and then an English major before eventually switching to Japanese. I was taking Japanese as my language credit and I liked it enough to change it to my minor and then eventually to my major. I added Asian studies in Spring 2019 after noticing I only needed two more classes for the major.” — Nathan Kamprath ’20; Japanese and Asian studies major
“I came to Carthage as an English major but I ended up switching to undecided. I always thought English was what I was meant to do, but after taking the Intro to Literature class, I realized it was really not for me. Attending the Women’s March in Chicago really influenced my decision to pursue social work. That experience, as well as classes I’ve taken at Carthage, pushed me to figure out who I wanted to become.” — Haley Olson ’21; social work major, women and gender studies, sociology minors
6. When in doubt, ask Mom! OR any of the people who know you best
Sometimes the people who know you best will offer you great advice when trying to decide on a major. Ask a friend, an advisor, or even mom to help point you in the right direction.
“I always loved editing pictures on Photoshop, creating posters, and any other creative project I could be involved with in high school. I just didn’t know of any jobs where I could do all that. I asked my mom what I should do and she suggested graphic design. I had never heard of it before. I looked into it more and was excited to find out that there was a career that encompassed everything I enjoy doing.” — Victoria Dobias ’19; graphic design major, public relations and theatre minors
“In high school, I tutored classmates and friends of mine in math, so becoming a math teacher was always in the back of my mind. When I told my math teacher about this idea, she told me ‘Yes! You need to do this!’. That’s what lit a spark in me that pushed me toward teaching, and math in particular.” — Riley Maguire ’20; mathematics major, secondary education and Spanish minors
“Spring semester of my freshman year after I took the J-Term EMR class, I decided that I really liked medicine and working hands-on with people. My mom always wanted to be a nurse and never got to, so I decided to do this for both myself and her.” — Sarah Ferri ’21; nursing major