Finding the perfect major isn’t always easy. We asked Carthage students, professors, and staff 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 and faculty members knew exactly what their majors would be when they were children.
“I’ve always loved ancient history, and I knew classics was the way to do it! I was even ‘The Egyptologist Who Found King Tut’s Mummy’ for Halloween when I was 9, so I guess you can say I’ve always known.” —Makenzie Cool ’19, classical studies and art history double-major
“I played sports throughout my life, and I always wanted to stay involved in sports when I finished competing on teams. I’ve always had an interest in health care, specifically sports medicine. Athletic training was a great major that fit the criteria I was looking for.” —Andrew Long ’19, athletic training major
“There was no question about my becoming an educator — I’d been playing ‘school’ since I was first able to hold a book and my sister taught me to read. Forty years later, I’m delighted that this vocation evolved into higher education.” — Patty Rieman, Associate Professor of Education
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 and staff members decided on their majors by exploring their personal interests.
“I’ve always been inspired by my teachers and have loved learning. I took a job as a playground director with Kenosha Unified School District the summer before transferring to Carthage, and I got to work with children ages 6-12 all day. It was the best! I already knew how much I loved working with children, but watching them grow as learners and as friends was so wonderful to see.” — Autumn Jones ’19; elementary education major, urban education minor
“I knew I wanted to work with people and represent companies, goals, and interests while ensuring workers were also being treated fairly. Public relations is such a broad field with so many possibilities. In my thesis class alone, we have people with plans to go into tourism, small business crisis management, human resources, wedding planning, and more.” — Christina Koch ’19; public relations major, communication, Spanish, business administration minors
“The best questions I was ever asked during my time as a college student were, ‘what is it you like to do? What makes you excited when you wake up in the morning? What are you passionate about? What do you want to learn?’ Take the time to ask yourself these simple questions and answer them honestly. The four years you spend here should be some of the most exciting and life-changing, so spend time learning about fields of study you’re excited about. Make it your own! Knowledge is powerful, but much more powerful when you have the passion to fuel it.” — Amber Krusza, Director of Residential Life
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.” — Kat Ottman ’22; computer science major, Chinese language minor
“I was originally a history minor because I didn’t think I could get a job with a history degree. Then I took my first history class at Carthage; I fell in love with the community of my department and realized I couldn’t deny who I was — a history major! I ignored my fears, completed the major I wanted, and am now employed by my alma mater; things will work out!” — Mackenzie Curry, ’17; Director of Tutoring Services
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 wanted a career in art that was more practical than working in a studio in terms of making a living.” — Brianna Gromowski ’21; graphic design major, Spanish minor
“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.
“When I was growing up, I took German, but I always knew I wanted to be a physician. When I got to college, I really struggled in biology and chemistry classes and realized it wasn’t my strength. It turned out that studying languages and literature was where my passions were, and I was good at it, too. I switched from biology to German and English. In the end, I became a doctor, even if it wasn’t the kind of doctor all of us imagined I would be.” — Greg Baer, Chair of the Modern Languages Department; Associate Professor of Modern Languages
“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 the best 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
“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
Carthage is the perfect place to explore new subjects and discover your passions.