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The importance of picking a major

Madelaine Vikse

NIU offers more than 50 majors for students to pick from (Madelaine Vikse | Northern Star)

Choosing a major is a big decision when entering college. It will dictate the courses you take throughout undergrad and will help you plan out your future career. It also comes with a lot of contemplating and fear of choosing the right one.

Everyone wants a career that they are passionate about and pays well, but that all starts with the major you choose. It is also OK to come into college undeclared, but you should have an idea by the second semester of your sophomore year. There are things you can consider before making that decision.

Michelle Pickett, the director of the Academic Advising Center, said that she tells students to look at the full list of courses and degree requirements of their desired major to see if it will be the right fit. She suggests that students take a close look at the Four Year Degree Paths page on the NIU website to help with their decision-making.

“I am all about students making an informed choice and part of that informed choice is either seeking out or reviewing information to help them know what the requirements are,” Pickett said.

For example, if you want to be a physical therapist and science isn’t your strong suit and you notice that a lot of math and science is involved then you may want to consider pursuing something else.

It can be important to know the resources available to you if you decide to change your major later on. Depending on which program you switch to, you might have already taken some of the same courses so the change would be fairly easy.

No matter the program, you should always reach out to your academic and program advisors as they will be the best ones to help you determine course load when switching. It may take a little extra time and money, but you will be graduating with a degree you not only worked hard for but enjoyed.

Picking a major is important, but that doesn’t mean you will enter your field right away. With the current job market, this is something you should be aware of and prepared for.

Erin Reid, an academic advisor at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said that it is absolutely fine if graduates don’t work in their field right away. In fact, she likes to call it the “resume-building” phase.

“Any experience that you can earn, whether it’s related to your major or not, are all things that you are adding to your resume that can make you a good candidate for a job that relates closely to your major,” Reid said.

No matter your experience in undergrad and postgrad, know that one day you will eventually end up at a job that is the right fit for you.

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