Choosing the Right Major
As we are coming to the end of March many prospective students will start getting their acceptance letters and with these letters comes not only excitement, but if we are honest, a little dread. While some may have already picked their majors and minors and know exactly where they see themselves in 10 or 15 years, a good portion ( I would argue the majority) of students are still trying to figure it all out. With 200 undergraduate programs, 170 graduate programs, and 18 Faculties, there are so many options for students at the University of Alberta. Knowing this, we decided it would be a great idea to talk about some of the things you can do to help you figure out which major and minor would work well for you, so here are our tips! :
- Think of your Career Aspirations and the many ways you can get there.
So you think you want to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer? Or maybe you like nursing, teaching, or acting. Figuring out the kinds of careers that might interest you is the first step, and the second would be finding out how to get there. Many careers don’t have a set route planned out, and happenstance can often take a crucial role in the development of many careers, so the key is always to place yourself in a major where you know opportunities in the things you are interested in doing will come your way. For example perhaps you see yourself working in a profession related to Aerospace, well there are many different types of majors you can choose that will take you in that direction including a degree in Computing Science or perhaps a major in Mechanical Engineering. Keep in mind that there are many ways to get to your “dream job” and so pick the path that interest you the most.
- Check out your Interests but also look into the Academic Requirements of the Degree you are thinking of doing.
While focusing on your interests or “dream jobs” is an awesome place to start when trying to figure out your major or minor, also make sure to research the academic requirements of majors you are thinking of taking because this will determine whether or not you will flourish in your degree. For example if you decided you want to pursue a degree in Marketing then keep in mind that you will not be taking just marketing courses but you will also be required to take many courses in finance, accounting, management science, and business law and if you think you won’t like the majority of the courses you will be required to take then maybe you should reconsider your choice of major.
- Look at the options and programs available in different facilities and to different majors
Looking at the different programs options available to students in different facilities and majors is super important when trying to decide where you want to invest four years (and sometimes more) of your academic career. For example the faculties of Engineering and the School of Business at the University of Alberta both offer a co-op program that will allow students to gain invaluable work experience in their chosen careers while working towards a degree. The Faculty of Arts also has a similar program titled the Arts Works Experience Program (AWE) that is also run like a co-op program, and it also has a satellite campus in Cortona, Italy where students can take arts classes while being surrounded by the amazing and inspirational Italian country side. Don’t just focus on the classes you will have to take but also on the options available to you in different faculties.
- Talk to an Advisor
Sometimes talking to an advisor, be they your academic on or the international advisor at the International Center, can really help you determine which path is right for you. They will be able to answer specific questions regarding your possible degree and can even give you insight into which courses are generally more challenging or rewarding for the students who take them. They can also help keep you on track when you do decide on a major so make sure to visit your advisor often!
- Sometimes being Undecided is Good
Finally, we understand that sometimes the pressure to pick a career path early, and by default a major early, can be intense but remember that sometimes being undecided can be a good thing too. Too many times students will pick a major only to determine in their third of fourth year that it won’t get any better and they really hate all the classes they are taking. Giving yourself time to try a diverse set of classes in your first or second year or of university before deciding what field of study most appeals to means that you will have time to cultivate your interests and make the right decision in the long run without any regrets.
By: Nathalie Batres