Blog of the Peer Advising Leadership Program, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

April 20, 2007 10:18 PM

Tribulations of Choosing a Major

Choosing a major can be a difficult process, but luckily for me, I knew what I was going to major in. The problem was if I wanted to switch majors because of other interests, making sure I wanted to be in the major, or double majoring. Read about why I choose to major in Genetics and Plant Biology in this post.

When I think about choosing a major, of course I think of my own experiences, but I am reminded of one of my friends. I knew what I wanted to study, and I knew that I had many different pathways I could choose from after I graduated that had to do with what I was studying (and they seem pretty solid pathways like medicine or research or teaching). But that's not the case for everyone. I'm sure many (not all) students have discussions and arguments about choosing a major and the chances of someone getting a job after graduating. Parents do
have a lot of influence over what we as students should study. I will admit that although I am lucky to be studying what I want to study, I am financially dependent on my parents for my education (and I know this isn't the case for most students). Because of this, sometimes I feel like I must choose something that my parents and I will not regret spending money on because this is an investment for them as well.

Striking that balance is difficult. I actually don't have much to add to from what the other peer advisors have been posting, so check out their blogs. But I would definitely use these tips below to convince your parents about the subject you want to study:

1) Talk to the major advisor and get more information about the major itself as well as the possible careers after graduation (or a conversation about the different paths one can take). For instance, a person can be a biology major, but s/he can be really interested in law – well, do biology as an undergrad and go to law school and specialize in patented law. Also, I had to convince my dad that my major was actually very similar to all the other people majoring in
MCB so that the opportunities for me were exactly the same as those for MCB majors because we take many of the same classes.
2) Look at the Career Center website. They have a ton of great resources such as stats of how many students applied and got into med school and what alumni are doing now. With this resource, you might be able to convince your parents that the major you are interested also has many possible career options.
3) If possible, keep an open dialogue with your parents about your interests and experiences. It will be a waste of their money (if you are financially dependent on them like I am) if you aren't interested in what you study, and you end up doing something that receiving a degree in that major will not help you in any way.

I sincerely hope that each of you find a major you are interested in and enjoy your college experience! Also, there is always the possibility of minors, so check those out!


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