How I chose my major

By current student Allie Benz
Textbooks on a shelf

When I started college, I had my entire life planned out. I came from a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) family, and I liked science, so I decided to double major in Biochemistry and Neuroscience. I would graduate with honors, attend some prestigious grad school, and go on to have a thriving career in neurological research.

There was one problem, though: I hated it.

While I know many people who love STEM majors, I learned very quickly that they weren’t for me. I wasn’t excited about or impassioned by the classes in the way my friends were.

Love at first class

The only class that I really enjoyed was my introductory psychology class (PSY 100). Everything I learned was fascinating, and I always wanted to know more. I went so far as to read the textbook for fun. I remember telling my friends on a daily basis “I wish I was a psych major; I think I would love it.” After about a month of doing this, one of my friends just turned to me and asked, “Well, why aren’t you?”

I had built up such an elaborate plan in my head about where my life was going that I forgot that changing my major was even an option. I had always looked at it as a last resort – something that you would do if you were failing your classes, or if you decided on a complete career 180, like wanting to become a florist instead of a physicist. I had good grades, and I still liked science and research — just not my classes. I was afraid of being looked at as a failure or someone who quit easily. But I also realized that I couldn’t continue to do something that was making me miserable.

Doing the research

While I liked psychology, I had no idea what I could do with a psychology major. So, I ended up talking to my psychology professor about second guessing my career plans, and she was incredibly helpful and supportive. She encouraged my interest in psychology and referred me to the advising department to learn more.

After meeting with an advisor, I found out that there were more career options in psychology than I could possibly have imagined. I learned that I could still do the scientific research that I wanted to do, but in a field that I liked. I found out that there was a concentration in psychology that aligned with my interests, and I officially switched my major a day or two after my advising appointment.

I have taken nearly a dozen different psychology classes since then, and I am still just as fascinated as I was in the beginning. Looking back, I couldn’t imagine doing anything different. I wish I had known earlier that changing your mind can sometimes be the best decision you make.

My biggest tips

Whether you’re coming into college with a major in mind, or you have no idea what your academic path should be, there’s a few things you can do to get you to the major that’s meant for you:

  1. If you’re just starting to think about your academic direction, take the MyMajors quiz. It’s a great way to get a feel for what majors and concentrations might suit you best.
  2. If you’ve done some exploring, but still not set on a major, that’s totally okay! You can enter CSU as an Undeclared/Exploring student–it’s the perfect way to literally explore your choices on site once you’re here.
  3. I cannot recommend enough how important talking to an advisor can be. A simple conversation can dispel any doubts you might have about choosing a major or knowing what might be a fit for you (or not) academically.
  4. And, while it might sound cliché, follow your dreams. No matter what path you take, if you do something that makes you happy, there’s a way to be successful with it.

Next steps

Still not sure what you should major in? Here’s some more resources to get you on track.

Read our guide to choosing a major

Advising

Are you undeclared and ready to explore? Advisors are waiting to help.

Undeclared student advising

All majors

Want to learn more about  majors and concentrations? Browse them all right here.

Explore majors and concentrations

Allie Benz

Allie is a current student who will graduate in 2020 with a degree in Psychology with a Mind, Brain, and Behavior concentration. She’s an Honors student and involved in several student orgs, but mostly just cares about her dog and watching Netflix’s Queer Eye.