Advice For Picking A College Major—Take A Chill Pill!
You've graduated. You're going to go to college—drumroll please—and now the pressure skyrockets to know what to do with the rest of your life. If you're like I was, you're pulling out your hair, spending hours in introspection, your ten-year-plan changes every two and a half days, and you've toyed with everything from astrophysics to zoology.
I've taken online college classes from three different schools, lived on campus at one, attended campus from home at another, and changed my major four times. Here are three things God's taught me about decision making over the past few years, in the midst of all that change.
God has already given you His will.
If I could time travel to drop a hint to my freshman self, I'd jab myself (gently) in the ribs and say, "Hey lady, take a chill pill—this college stuff isn't half as big as you think it is." Then I'd give myself a Jamba Juice and crack open the Bible. God's Word has all we need for life and godliness. He doesn't spell out the big life-decisions we're dying to know about, but His precise moral will is spelled out for us. Here's a little homework—Philippians 4:4–9 is a great place to begin renewing your mind with that truth.
You change as you go. Changing your mind is okay.
I used to have this sinking feeling that choosing my college and major was the educational equivalent of announcing engagement to some guy I'd never met before—total commitment ... and I'd live with the consequences forever. As it turns out, picking a field of study is more like dating than engagement, and your major(s) aren't even disappointed when you dump ‘em for something that fits better! Don't feel pressured to figure out your future freshman year. You may not even end up in a job directly related to your major.
What do you enjoy learning about? What topics matter most to you? What kind of things do you bring up repeatedly in conversation with friends? What are your strengths and your weaknesses? Is there a need you see in the world that you can't get out of your mind? Where can your passions and abilities intersect with that need? These kinds of questions have helped guide and shape my desires.
The options are endless, and God is glorified in every legitimate vocation—so choose something that sounds interesting and give it a whirl. Talk to people who are graduating with that major. Talk to professionals in the field. Learn the pros and cons of the occupation. Talk to your academic advisor. Talk to the mentors who know you best. Ask your parents for their insights about your areas of giftedness and passion. Make lists. I was greatly helped by Alex Chediak's book Thriving in College. I highly, highly recommend it to all college students. He's also written stellar articles like this one and this one about college and vocation choices. If you appreciate the articles, you'll want to buy the book.
Career decisions cannot save you.
Fear reveals where your heart is. My decision paralysis showed me that I was banking hope for a satisfied life in my educational prospects. I was afraid of choosing a path that would lead me into "dissatisfaction" or "unhappiness." A satisfied life is found in fellowship with Jesus, not in circumstances—either present or future. If you seek ultimate contentment and joy in any career path, disappointment is a guarantee. If you seek fulfillment and joy in Jesus, you will find it.
Questions for current undergrads and grads:
- What decision-making lessons has God been teaching you?
- How would you counsel yourself if you could go back to freshman year?
- How did you choose your major?