I’ve been with the Diversity Admissions Council for 2 semesters now and one of the MOST common questions that I get from prospective students is: What’s the best major for me with XYZ interests?
I get it. Choosing a major is a big decision. Especially for first-years entering Tufts, it’s a daunting task! Scrolling through the majors list, planning out spreadsheets upon spreadsheets of potential majors and their requirements, googling “What can I do with a XYZ degree?” I’ve been there and done it all. Let me share with you all some of my thoughts behind this loaded question.
1. Remember that your major does NOT equal your destiny
I’ve fallen into this trap way too many times before I declared. It felt like once I chose a major, I would be bound to this slim path towards a career. If I major in International Relations, I have to enter foreign policy and diplomacy. If I’m a Biology major, then off to medical school I go. No! This is the thinking that only heightens the anxiety behind choosing a major. You are not being forced to enter a certain field if you declare a certain major. The classes required within a major curriculum will prepare you with skills that are translatable to other career paths. You are not bound to your major’s typical career. For example, I declared a Psychology major. This does not mean that I have to end up in a field relating to counseling. My Psychology major prepares me with a multitude of skills, from analyzing empirical data and understanding basic quantitative and analytical methods of scientific investigation to understanding theories and models of psychology. This means I can go into academia, education, human resources, public health, and many other fields. And if you are unsure of what to major in, you have ample time! The deadline to register is in your Sophomore spring, which means that you have 3+ semesters’ worth of time to explore classes and find what you like.
2. Don’t bind yourself to a certain subfield
The beauty of distribution requirements means that you will have the chance to explore a variety of intriguing topics. I encourage everyone to take a new intro course on something that you’ve never done but are interested in! The flexibility of the distribution requirements means that even if you are in a STEM major, you will find ways to incorporate your learning from a humanities class into your core interests. Once you’ve had a handful of classes under your belt, try to see if there’s a trend in the classes that you have taken and have enjoyed.
3. Do ample research before choosing
Talk to your professors! Because they know the fields well, they can help you hone in on your interests and introduce you to career paths that are novel to you! They can help you begin to paint an image of what you like. Talk to older students in the major that you are interested in. I especially encourage talking to your graduate TAs if applicable. Utilize the support of your pre-major advisor and academic deans. And utilize the Career Center! They not only help you with resume critiques and interview prep; they also help you assess your strengths, advise you on potential career paths, and help you select a major. Lastly, if one major doesn’t work out, you can make your own with the Interdisciplinary major!
4. Be open-minded and flexible
Remember, it’s not the text on the diploma that makes employers want you. They look at your skills, your experience, and what you have taken from your classes. Think about what skills you want to develop, ranging from hard skills to soft skills. Be open-minded about your learning. Every day is a new you! So have your learning reflect that. Be flexible but responsible, and have fun learning and exploring!
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